MADURAI: The Madurai bench of the Madras high court has granted permission to a remand prisoner to meet his wife who is critically ill at a hospital in Tirunelveli district. The court also observed that the escort police respect the privacy of the prisoner. The court during a special sitting on Tuesday, heard a petition filed by the sister of a prisoner Mohamed Shalin who is currently lodged in the Palayamkottai Central Prison to meet his ailing wife who is critically ill at the Rosemary Mission Hospitals and Research Centre. Though the sessions court for exclusive trial of bomb blast cases in Chennai granted permission to the prisoner to meet his wife at his residence, the escort police did not allow the meeting as his wife was shifted to the hospital. Justice G R Swaminathan observed that the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983 contains provisions regarding interviews and communications with the prisoners. If his wife had not become immobile, she would have been entitled to visit him in prison. However, as she is immobile, his right to contact and communicate with her cannot be extinguished, observed the judge. âThis should not be seen as a prisonerâs privilege but it must be viewed as the spousal right of the prisonerâs wife,â the judge added.Refusing to accept the contention that the meeting should take place in the presence of an escort official, the judge observed that Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 treats the communication between spouses during marriage as privileged.âI am therefore of the view that Rule 531 of Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983, which states that every interview with a convicted prisoner shall take place in the presence of an experienced police official will have to be read down as inapplicable during meetings between spouses. Though Rule 529 states that the place of interview will be at or near the main gate, I am of the view that the prison authorities will have to make an exception in the case of spousal meetings.â the judge observed.The judge also observed, âWhen a prisoner meets his wife, he may like to hold her hands, his emotions are bound to be find a physical expression. Conversations between prisoner and his spouse should be unmonitored. Though the prisoner and his spouse shall be searched carefully, the prison authorities are obliged to facilitate the meetings between the prisoner and his wife in a reasonably private space.â The court directed the prison authorities to take the prisoner to meet his wife on May 29 (Wednesday) between 10am to 5pm. The court observed that the escort police shall respect the privacy of the prisoner and his wife and said that close blood relatives of the prisoner shall be present during the meeting. The cost of escort shall be borne by the state government and the conditions imposed earlier by the sessions court shall be adhered to.
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