CHENNAI: The Madras high court has directed the chief secretary and IG of Prisons, Puducherry, to submit the files related to withholding of transfer orders of prison officials in the Union Territory.
A division bench comprising Justices S. Manikumar and Subramanium Prasad, before whom the suo motu PIL came up for hearing said, "Inspection made by an amicus on February 16, 2019 resulted in transfer of prison officials on February 18. Exchange of correspondence between the Superintendent of Prisons, Puducherry and the IG of Prisons, Puducherry, warranting the intervention by the Chief Minister and directing the orders of transfers to be kept in abeyance prima facie indicates that all those events are consequential to the reports of the Principal District Judge (PDJ)."
"We hereby direct the Chief Secretary of Puducherry and IG of Prisons to produce all the files pertaining to the request of the amicus, transfer files of the officers, file of the Chief Superintendent of Prisons cancelling the relieving orders, files pertaining to the Chief Minister's note and the order dated February 22, 2019 of IG of Prisons declaring the Chief Superintendent of Prisons' order as null and void."
The matter is related to a suo motu PIL taken up by the First Bench of the Court on October 5, 2017 in terms of the judgment delivered by Supreme Court dated September 15, 2017 which requested the Chief Justice of the High Court to register a suo motu public interest petition with a view to identify next of kin of the prisoners, who have admittedly died an unnatural death as revealed by the NCRB between 2012 and 2015 and thereafter, and award suitable compensation.
On October 3, 2018 the bench not satisfied with the report filed by the Home, Prohibition and Excise Department, Tamil Nadu, appointed Senior Counsel Vaigai as an amicus curie to inspect the jails in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and file a report. Vaigai sought for certain files relating to the prisoners, who were on parole leave and their applications and also asked the Prison Medical Officer to provide certain files and information as the hospital was under staffed and under equipped and under tremendous pressure to handle any crisis. As per the report, the order of transfer was withheld on the intervention of the Chief Minister of Puducherry.
Taking serious note of the issue, the bench directed the Chief Secretary and the IG of Prisons, Puducherry to produce the files with detailed report and posted the matter to March 1 for the next hearing....