Francis Coralie Mullin Vs The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi on 13 January, 1981
Now obviously when an under-trial prisoner is granted the facility of interviews with relatives and friends twice in a week under Rule 559A and a convicted prisoner is permitted to have interviews with his relatives and friends once in a week under Rule 550, it is difficult to understand how sub-clause (ii) of Clause 3(b) of the Conditions of Detention Order, which restricts the interview only to one in a month in case of a detenu, can possibly be regarded as reasonable and non-arbitrary, particularly when a detenu stands on a higher pedestal than an under-trial prisoner or a convict and, as held by this Court in Sampath Prakash’s case (supra) restrictions placed on a detenu must “consistent with the effectiveness of detention, be minimal.” We would therefore unhesitatingly hold sub-clause (ii) of clause 3(b) to be violative of Articles 14 and 21 in so far as it permits only one interview in a month to a detenu. We are of the view that a detenu must be permitted to have atleast two interviews in a week with relatives and friends and it should be possible for a relative or friend to have interview with the detenu at any reasonable hour on obtaining permission from the Superintendent of the Jail and it should not be necessary to seek the permission of the District Magistrate, Delhi, as the latter procedure would be cumbrous and unnecessary from the point of view of security and hence unreasonable. We would go so far as to say that even independently of Rules 550 and 559A, we would regard the present norm of two interviews in a week for prisoners as furnishing a criterion of what we would consider reasonable and non-arbitrary.
Citation: 1981 AIR 746, 1981 SCR (2) 516
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