CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court rapped the Tamil Nadu prisons department for demanding bribes from families of prisoners who came out on parole. It was brought to the court's notice that policemen who escort prisoners on parole were collecting charges from their families.
The court also ordered the state government to amend the Tamil Nadu prison rules to dispose of parole pleas in two weeks.
The two-member bench comprising justices R Kirubakaran and VM Hemalatha was hearing a habeas corpus plea directing the Superintendent of Prisons, Salem, to grant ordinary leave for a period of one month without escort to life convict prisoner D Radhakrishnan.
The petitioner also contended that police officials accompanying the convicts are taking money in the name of charges.
The court in its order observed, "If it is happening, then it is illegal and it would amount to bribe. It is made clear that if any such incident is brought to the notice of this Court, then departmental proceedings would be taken against the concerned officials. Also, action under the Prevention of Corruption Act would be taken."
The court also emphasized that the convicts are languishing in jail and do not have any source of livelihood and their families are already suffering. In spite of this, these people are fleecing convicts who come out on parole without any sympathy.
Therefore, the court directed the Inspector General of Prisons to make it clear that no amount shall be demanded from convicts when they come out on parole and if any such incident happens, it can be promptly reported to the authorities.
The counsel for the petitioner also argued that they had applied for parole in September 2019. However, it took several months for the authorities to consider the petition.
The court granting 10 days parole to the life convict also ordered an amendment of the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules.
The court directed the police department to get a report from the probation officer and local Sub Inspector of Police, if necessary, within one week and the prison authorities shall forward the same to the government for passing appropriate orders.
The government shall pass appropriate orders and intimate the same to the family members of the prisoners within a period of one week. The above two weeks time limit would do justice to the parties, it added.
"The government is directed to make appropriate amendments in the rules indicating two weeks’ time limit for disposal of the representation for ordinary leave. Till such amendment is made, the above time limit shall be in force and shall be scrupulously followed by the authorities", the court ordered.