Published on: 23 November 2022 at 21:11 IST
The Kerala High Court recently directed the state government to ensure that adequate space is available in jails to ensure privacy when an accused meets his lawyer.
A division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly passed this direction while recording the submission of the State government that there are some space constraints in certain sub-jails.
“It is viewed that there should be sufficient space for the advocates and clients, to interact, and privacy should also be taken note of by respondents. In the above circumstances, we direct the respondents to explore the possibility of providing sufficient space, if required, to adopt the rough sketch submitted by the District Legal Services Authority and issue appropriate directions,” the judgment stated.
The Court was considering a plea filed by a lawyer, who sought a direction to the authorities to set up adequate and necessary facilities for conducting meetings between prisoners and their legal advisors in private and secure environment in prisons.
The petitioner submitted that Section 40 of the Prisons Act of 1894, Section 47 of the Kerala Prison and Correctional Services (Management) Act, 2010, and Rule 827(2) of the Kerala Prison and Correctional Services (Management) Rules, 2014 mandated that it has been laid down that the lawyer and his client should be given privacy while taking instructions.
Still there is no privacy when the advocate consults his client as the meeting place provided is right next to the jail warden who can overhear their conversation and also other persons as it is a common place for visitors, argued the petitioner.
He also submitted that despite receiving a letter sent by the State from the Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services directing him to take immediate steps to provide necessary facilities as per prison laws, no steps were taken.
The Court noted that as per a report submitted by the District Legal Services Authority, facilities are provided for interaction between the lawyer and the prisoners. A table and two chairs have been kept in the jail for the prisoners to discuss with the lawyers, but it was seen that the jail welfare officer’s room is not ahead of the place where the table and chairs are kept.
The report also gives a rough outline of changes that can be made within some of the prisons to improve the situation.
The court disposed of the plea with a direction to the state government and other concerned authorities to ensure that jails have adequate space and privacy for lawyer-client meetings and discussions.