Lawyers should be allowed to meet imprisoned clients, rules Kerala HC

Kerala High Court emphasised the Constitutional right of a convict to get legal assistance in its ruling

Kerala High Court (photo: IANS)
Kerala High Court (photo: IANS)


Taking a firm stand, the Kerala High Court on Thursday, July 6, has directed jail authorities to allow the lawyers meet their imprisoned "clients", failing which a strict view would be taken.

Lawyers are officers of the court, so when a lawyer visits a prison to meet his client, it is the duty of the concerned authorities to facilitate the same, it observed.

Emphasising that it is the Constitutional right of a convict to get legal assistance, the court said, "It is the right of a lawyer to see his client in connection with his professional duties, if his client also wants to meet the lawyer. There cannot be any restrictions from the police or the prison authorities. But I make it clear that the action of the lawyers should be in connection with their professional duties and not for any other purpose," the court said in its judgement.

If any unnecessary delay is caused to a lawyer in meeting a client in jail or if there is any unnecessary detention of a lawyer at the gate of a jail, who approaches a prison after taking appointment to meet his client in connection with his professional duties, this Court will take it very seriously in the future," it added. 

The judgment was passed on a petition filed by a lawyer Thushar Nirmal Sarathy, who said that he was denied permission by the Superintendent of Central Prison in the state capital city  to get a vakalath, petition, and affidavit signed by his client in jail undergoing life imprisonment.

The court expressed shock at the allegations in the petition.

"I am astonished to see the pleadings in this writ petition and the grievance of the lawyer. A lawyer is forced to approach this court to obtain the signature of his client convicted in a criminal case and who is lodged in Central Prison," the court pointed out.

However, the jail superintendent while expressing regret admitted  that advocate Sarathy had been inconvenienced when he tried to visit his client but he said that this was not due to any intentional action from the authorities.

Later, Sarathy informed the court that his grievances had been redressed.

In order to ensure that situations like this do not recur, the court opined that the Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services should act accordingly.

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