SANT BIR Vs. STATE OF BIHAR
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
STATE OF BIHAR
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Bhagwati, J. -
(1.) This is yet another case from the State of Bihar where we find that a prisoner who became sane almost sixteen years ago is still confined to jail and has not been able to breathe the fresh air of freedom. The petitioner was sentenced to imprisonment for life for an offence under S. 302 of the Penal Code on 28th Feb. 1949 by the Sessions Judge, Gaya and he was sent to Gaya Central Jail to serve his term of imprisonment, It appears that the mental condition of the petitioner was not stable and the Government of Bihar in its Judicial Department therefore directed the Superintendent, Central Jail, Gaya to watch the petitioner's Mental condition and submit a report to the State Government after six months. We do not know whether any such report in regard to the mental condition of the petitioner was submitted by the Superintendent, Gaya Central Jail to the State Government, but the record shows that on 20th Nov. 1951 the petitioner was transferred from Gaya Central Jail to Hazaribagh Central Jail for confinement as criminal lunatic under the orders of the Inspector General of prison. Bihar. The half-yearly reports in regard to the mental condition of the petitioner were sent to the State Government from time to time up to 10th Sept. 1955 and these reports showed that the petitioner was still insane. We do not know whether any reports about the mental condition of the petitioner were sent after 10th Sept. 1955 nor do we have any information in regard to his mental condition subsequent to that date. But about 11 years later we find from the medical history sheet of the petitioner that he was reported harmless and was found behaving normally since 23rd Dec. 1966. What was the date on which this entry was made in the medical history sheet does not appear from the record but obviously it must be subsequent to 23rd Dec. 1966. It appears that this report was communicated by the Superintendent, Hazaribagh Central Jail to the State Government in the Law Department and though, through this report the State Government in the Law Department was informed that as a. result of the medical examination the petitioner was found harmless and was behaving normally, no action was taken by the Law Department for the purpose of securing release of the petitioner from the Jail.
(2.) Thereafter on 11th Feb. 1969, the petitioner was again examined by the first Assistant Superintendent. Ranchi Mansik Arogyashala Kanke and the medical report made by this officer showed that the petitioner was fully recovered and was free from any symptoms since 23rd Dec. 1966 and was fit for discharge. This medical report was by the Superintendent, Hazaribagh Central Jail to the State Government in the Law Department and it was stated that the petitioner was fit for discharge "in the care of his guardian or surety" and that necessary orders should be passed in that behalf. Now on receipt of this intimation, the State Government in its Law Department should have immediately directed release of the petitioner since he was certified to be fit for discharge. But instead of doing so, the State Government directed the Superintendent. Hazaribagh Central Jail by its letter dated 7th April 1969 to keep the petitioner in safe custody as a criminal lunatic for three years and to send regular medical reports for consideration. We fail to see how the State Government could possibly ask the Superintendent, Hazaribagh Central Jail to keep the petitioner in custody for a period of three years when the petitioner was already declared to have fully recovered and was fit for discharge. This is clearly symptomatic of the utter callousness and indifference on the part of the officers of the State Government dealing with this matter.
(3.) The State Government in the Law Department then addressed a communication dated 15th Sept. 1971 to the Superintendent, Hazaribagh Central, Jail asking him to send an up-to-date report in regard to the mental condition of the petitioner as also to inform the State Government whether anybody was ready "to take surety of the lunatic" or not and if there was anyone ready to do so, then to obtain a written application from him and to forward it to the State Government. It is again not possible to understand as to why the State Government should have insisted on a surety before releasing the petitioner from the jail when the petitioner was found to be completely recovered perfectly fit for discharge and there was absolutely be no warrant or justification in law to detain him. It appears that pursuant to the above communication received from the State Government, the Superintendent, Hazaribagh Central Jail addressed a letter dated 11th Mar. 1972 to the father of the petitioner asking him whether he was ready to stand surety for the petitioner but no reply was received and this fact was reported by the Superintendent to the State Government on 22nd April 1972. The result was that the petitioner continued to rot in jail for a further period of ten Years, though he was fully recovered and there was no reason or justification to continue his detention in the jail. It is shocking to our conscience that a perfectly sane person should have been incarcerated within the walls of a prison for almost 16 years without any justification in law whatsoever. If this had been a solitary case, it could perhaps have been explained away by offering some excuse, though I do not see how any excuse can be valid when it involves imprisonment of an individual for almost 16 years without any authority of law. But we find from the decision given by this Court on 11th May 1982 in Writ Petition (Crl) No. 73/82 - Miss Veena Sethi v. State of Bihar that several other prisoners who had become sane long years ago were also detainted in prison in the State of Bihar as criminal lunatic for years and they continued to rot in jail until they were released by this Court.;
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