Kochi: The Kerala High Court, taking a tough stance, has instructed jail officials to permit the lawyers to visit their imprisoned “clients”; failing which, a strict stance would be taken. It was noted that since lawyers are representatives of the court, it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to make it possible for a lawyer to visit a prison to speak with a client.
The court emphasized a convict’s constitutional right to legal representation and stated, “A lawyer has the right to see his client in connection with his professional duties, if his client likewise wants to meet the lawyer. There cannot be any limitations imposed by the prison administration or the police. But I make it clear that the lawyers’ actions should be related to their professional responsibilities and not for any other reason, the court stated in its judgment.
This Court will take it very seriously moving forward if there is any needless delay in a lawyer meeting a client in jail or if there is any needless detention of a lawyer at a jail’s gate who approaches a prison after making an appointment to meet his client in connection with his professional duties, the judgement further states.
The court ruled in response to a plea submitted by a lawyer named Thushar Nirmal Sarathy, who claimed that the Superintendent of Central Prison in the state capital city had refused to grant him permission to have his client, who was serving a life sentence, sign a vakalath, petition, and affidavit.
The allegations in the petition shocked the court. “I am shocked by the claims made in this writ petition and the lawyer’s complaint. A lawyer is compelled to come before this court to get the signature of a client who has been found guilty in a criminal case and is being held in Central Prison,” the court noted.
The jail superintendent, who expressed regret, acknowledged that attorney Sarathy had encountered difficulties when attempting to see his client, but he insisted that this was not because of any deliberate effort on the part of the authorities. Later, Sarathy gave the court notice that his complaints had been resolved.
The court stated that appropriate action should be taken by the Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services to guarantee that circumstances like this don’t happen again.