The Madras High Court, through its order on Thursday (May 27, 2021), has directed all correctional homes to permit interaction between advocates representing the inmates and the relevant inmates.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy passed these directions in a 2017 suo moto writ petition which pertains to the inmates at various correctional homes in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
“Since there are video conferencing facilities and, in any event, there are video calls possible by way of mobile apps, the authorities at all correctional homes should permit interaction between advocates representing the inmates and the relevant inmates upon setting down certain parameters in such regard. Since the surge has subsided in most places, immediate contact may be permitted as sought, on a rational and reasonable basis.”, the Bench ordered.
The Bench also examined the report submitted by the High Powered Committees that was constituted by the Supreme Court during the first lockdown under the aegis of the Legal Services Authorities in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
The report indicated that the number of positive cases of Covid-19 among inmates in Tamil Nadu was not alarming. However, nearly 32% of inmates had tested positive for Covid-19 in Puducherry which is a cause for concern. Counsel appearing on behalf of the Puducherry Government assured that the 64 inmates who had tested positive had been moved to the hospital and were given adequate treatment, all but two of them have recovered and been discharged.
Taking into consideration the suggestions made by Amicus Curiae, Ms. R. Vaigai, the Court directed that all decisions taken by the High Powered Committee must be published and made available to the public on the Government websites.
"The relevant Government Departments should publish the decisions taken by the High Power Committees at the recent meetings setting down parameters for grant of parole or leave of inmates at correctional homes. The process of temporary release of the inmates should be expedited so that the crowding in the correctional homes is brought down to the extent possible," the order read.