Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration

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By Somya Goyal

Date of judgement- 20 December, 1979

Equivalent citations: 1980 AIR 1579, 1980 SCR (2) 557

Bench: KRISHNAIYER, V.R. PATHAK, R.S. REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J)

  1. Constitutional and jurisprudential aspect

The instant case revolves around Article 21 of the Indian Constitution with a close nexus with Article 14 and Article 19 of the Indian Constitution 1950.By accepting natural justice as a vital part of the rule of law and law in various instances the courts in India has incorporated the American notion of due process of law in Indian constitution.

When aninmate is devastated, the Constitution aches a shockwave.Prison dynasties are an essential part of the Indian earth and the Indian constitution cannot be held at barkby means ofpenitentiary bureaucrats ‘wearing a touch, quick authority.’ This case is at once anindication, anicon and a signboardvis a vis anthropological rights in reformatory situations. When custodialordeal prevails, penal justice must organize and hence as a result it  broadens the ‘habeas’ jurisdiction. Jurisprudence cannot stagnation when the self-sameprecincts of retaliatory justice seeagony.

  • Outline: issues and relevant laws

The main issues and contentions that were laid before the court of justice were as follows-

  1. Has the court authority to do not forget prisoners’ criticism, no longer disturbing release however, inside the incarceratory conditions, cantankerous of ill-treatment and restriction brief of illegal detention?
  2. What jurisdictionalcures can be fixed to avert and chastise their break and to provide admittance to prison justice?
  3. What feasible remedies and interdictions pertaining to jail practices may be pressured up by way of the court docket?
  4. What jail reform viewpoints and tactics need to be followed to toughen, in the end, the constitutional instructions and human rights requirements?

The relevant laws and provisions which were invoked are as follows Punjab Prison Manual, Paras 41, 47, 49 and 53; Article 21 and 32 of  Constitution of India 1950;Section 27, 29 and 61 of Prisons Act 1894.

Dr. Y. S. Chitale and Mukul Mudgal acts on behalf of the Petitioner and Soli Sorabjee, Solicitor General of India, and R. N. Sachthey acts on behalf of the respondents.

  • Critical review

Here, the man or woman is a convict whose anus turned into ostensiblystabbed with a warder’s baton andestablishment is the Tihar Jail, admist the resources of the country and beneath the control of the Home Ministry.

Our constitution appoints judges as the invigilators and is burdened with the duty to enforce the constitutionality and to maintain and supervise overall performance of auditors of legality and convicts.

In the judicial system a duty is imposed on whole system by the command of the judges and office bearers to monitor the incarceratorprocedure and to put a check on jailors and wardens to avert security ‘excesses.’ The head of jails are binded by the rule of law and cannot go beyond it otherwise it will break the shackles of the constitution and will be very against the spirit of the natural justice.

  • Key contentions

The  unfortunate facts and incidents in the case reveals the crime and harshness faced by the convicts and also throw lights on legal provisions involved in this case. The instant case directs the court to make and draft legal remedial procedures as a way to complement the consumingaspect of jurisprudence which bears close nexus with habeas with preliminaryprospects of human rights and modern methods of custodial correction.  The petitioner in this case was a convict named Batra who has been imposed with death sentence. On a fortunate day he came to know about the crime which is taking place in the jail onanother convict named Prem Chand. In the said case Prem Chand was exposed to nonstoppain by prison wardens and bureaucratsprimarily name Maggar Singh who used to excerptcurrency from the companions visiting to their family members in jail. Batra confronted the results of prison resentment and took the episode to the acquaintance of the courtroom, ensuing in these lawsuits which, although not stringently outmoded, are honestly in the nature of habeas corpus writs and so, in the broadercurve of Art. 32.

Under Article 32 and 226 the court has a public duty to provide protection to prisoners for the sake of protection of their interests and their liberty. A person being a convict of a crime doesn’t mean that he has lost his all fundamental rights although he can face a shrink in his rights which are provided under Part III of the Indian Constitution to its citizens. There is a vigil to his rights whenever his fundamental rights are being violated.

A wrong done to any person is a wrong and that wrong neither be converted to a right nor can its degree be reduced just for a reason that a person against whom the wrong has committed is a convict. The judges are entrustment with the duty to protect the prisoners for the reason that they have an obligation entrusted on them to safeguard the implementation of punishments and verdicts infringed on themdeprived ofimmoderations and to protect their liberty in consciences with Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which provides right  to life and liberty to every of its citizens.

A true society is that which maintains a quality of life of its individuals including prisoners at least by maintaining quality of prisoners and probate services which are provided to them. 

  • Scrutiny of the case

Jailbirds arequiet ‘folks’ authorized to all legitimate privileges until their freedom has been constitutionally curtailed via processes that gratify all the necessities of owing technique.Examination of precedents whether internal jail or outdoor, an individualwill now not be disadvantaged of his assuredsovereignty store by means of procedures ‘right, just and truthful’. Bhagwati J. in Maneka Gandhi perceived. The opinion of equanimity, which lawfully as well as metaphysically, is an indispensabledivision of equivalence or non-arbitrarinesspermeates Article 14 like a menacing omnipresence and the routeenvisaged by Article 21 must response the test of sensibleness in order to be in conformism with Art. 14. It needs to be “right and just and fair” and no longer arbitrary, farfetched or tyrannical; then it might be no technique in any respect and the prerequisite of Article 21 could not be satisfied.

Hoskot[1]smeared the rule in Maneka Gandhi[2] case to a jaillocale and held that “one component of fair process is natural justice”. Thus it is currentlyflawless law that a convictattires the armour of rudimentary freedom even behindhandslabs and that on breach thereof by unlegislated officials the law will retort to his griefsignsover ‘writ’ aid. No blind sheet can be extended and drawn between the rights and liberties of prisoners and the Indian constitution.

  •  Examination of evidence

Deplorably, the ‘rumor’ affirmation of the under Secretary (home), Delhi administration, Shri Nathu Ram, winks on the prison vices and without a doubt clothes up the authentic variety without a lot as an inquisitorial audit of the lurid accomplishments in a optimum correctional basis of the nation.

  • Obitar dictum

The constitutionaI domineering which informs our viewpoint in this habeas corpus scheduled must first be set out. The guideline of regulation encounters with its Waterloo while the country of a minions emerge as regulation-breakers and so the courtroom, as the sentinel of the country and the opinion of the charter, scoresdowncast the violators with its writ and safeguards acquiescence with human privilegesuniform at the back of iron bars and by using jail warders. The spirit of the problem is that in today’s generation of social rights attention the habeas writ has practicalvariety and the statutoryesteem for human decorum and self-esteem is examined through this functionality. The temper of the community with reference to the remedy of misconduct and offenders is one of the most trustworthy exams of the civilization of any country.

  • Ratio decidendi

The premiumera of justice arrives when thecourtroom  and counsels appearing productivelycooperate to style a comfort in the character case and comprehendsubterranean to treatment the organized pathology which  defies rights and breeds wrong.The petitioner does now not are searching for the discharge of the prisoner due to the fact an existence sentence continues him in captivity. However the vibrant function of judicial tonics, after Batra’s case, divulges to the habeas corpus writ a flexiblevivacity and operating application that styles the recovery incidence of the law aware as much as its popularity as fortress of liberty even inside the confidentiality of the concealed cellular

  • Observation

Due process and natural justice carries on a similarity.  Like due process of Law natural justice is also not aninflexible or a motorized concept. The procedures of natural Righteousness are to be efficient in the framework of the conditions in which it is to be realistic. The court of law itself citedopinions of Maggary Justice who describe Natural justice ‘as quintessence of due process of law.’ Justice Krishna lyer has perceive that although our constitution doesn’t incorporate the doctrine of due process as like the American constitution but after the landmark judgement of Cooper and Maneka Gandhi case the result is same.

The court in this case has explained in detail the various powers contained in Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. Adding to this the court has explained the importance of the Habeas Corpus writ and remarked that the said writ is for the protection of the prisoners. At the same time the court has placed certain limitations to the Writ.

Throwing light on the powers of District Magistrate the courts adds that DM acts as judicial officer and executive head. But in case of prisoners the DM has to deal independently as prisoner executive.

Focusing on Article 19 of the constitution the court further order that under Article 19 there can be liberal and unrestricted visits up to certain limit by companions, friends and  family of convict are allowed.

The Supreme Court in its supervisory judicial role declared that lawyers which are appointed by District magistrates, Session court and Apex court have liberty to avail all facilities for periodical visits, interviews and right to have confidential communication with prisoners subjected to considerations. The lawyers concerned are required to report to the concerned authorities.

The most important observation of the court has declared the solitary confinement as unconstitutional under Article 14, 19,20(2) and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Procedure established by law under Article 21 of the Indian constitution provides that a prisoner is entitled to go to court of law if there is infringement of its personal rights.

  1. Contribution

Prisoners are also covered under the definition of law. Law as declared by court and laws written in books is of no use if it doesn’t protect interests of convicts and are in such a complicated form that it is difficult on the part of former to understand it. Therefore, a sudden need arise to get ready a prisoner’s manual in simple language and make them spontaneouslyaccessible to the prisoners. Theparamountstep to be unrestricted from terror of unlaws is to know the laws.The most important rights of prisoners includes

  1. Uprightness of his bodily presence and mental temperament.
  2. Not to be subject to dispossessions not obliged by fact of internment.
  3. Protection from protean forms, physical assaults, solitary cells, unguided degradations, deprivation of prisoner inmates of inhumane amenity, and degrading labour.

The most important fact which is being highlighted is that the Indian constitution has freed itself from many tyrant feature and writs of English via Article 32. The Court is not a detachedintellectionsupreme in the books but afuturisticorganization which is the cynosure of public anticipation. The court can concern writs to meet the new challenges[3].


[1] Hoskot v. Maharashtra, [1979] 1 SCR 192

[2] Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [1979] 1 SCC 248

[3] Dwarkanath v. income Tax officer [1965] 3 SCR 536

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