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However, they will not be entitled to the benefit if they were facing trial in another case, say judges

One way of promoting reformation is to permit convict prisoners to go on leave, off and on, to spend time with their families and return to the prison rejuvenated. However, such convicts cannot be granted leave if they were facing trial in another criminal case, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justices P.N. Prakash and R.N. Manjula said it would be impermissible for the prison superintendents to grant leave to convicts who were facing trial in another case because it would amount to circumventing judicial orders in the other cases in which the convicts had to attend trial proceedings.

“That (granting leave) would ex facie amount to an interference in the administration of justice by the court,” the Bench said while dismissing a writ petition filed by a life convict’s wife seeking one-month ordinary leave for her husband to make arrangement for their son’s marriage.

Government Advocate R. Muniyapparaj brought it to the notice of the court that the 54-year-old life convict P. Nagendran, lodged in Puzhal central prison, was not granted leave because he was facing trial in one more murder case in which provisions of the Arms Act of 1959 too had been pressed.

After recording his submission, Justice Prakash said the objective behind formulating the Tamil Nadu Suspension of Sentence Rules of 1982 was to ensure that a convict prisoner should not be dehumanised by being kept in complete incarceration without being provided a ventilator for reformation.

“The idea of sentencing a person to undergo imprisonment is not only to punish him for the offence committed by him, but also to ensure that he turns a new leaf. One way of promoting reformation is to permit convict prisoners to go on leave, off and on, to spend time with their families and return to the prison rejuvenated.

“However, be it noted that a convict prisoner does not have a fundamental right, much less a right, for temporary release. Rule 3 of the Suspension of Sentence Rules makes this clear when it states that leave cannot be claimed as a matter of right and that it is only a concession granted to the prisoner,” the judge wrote.

He went on to state that if a convict prisoner had, to his credit, another criminal case in which he was facing trial, a duty would be cast upon the prison authorities to produce him before the trial court from time to time. Therefore, such convicts would not be entitled to grant of leave, he concluded.