Case BriefsInternational Courts

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: The application had been filed under Rule 19 of the Court Rules from Provision 17 of the Court Practice Directions before the Court comprising of the following? Sylvain, President; Ben Kioko, Vice-President; Rafaa, Angelo, Suzanne, M-Therese, Tujilane, Chafika, Blaise, Stella, Anukam, JJ. and Robert ENO, Registrar.

Facts of the case were that the applicant had been convicted for raping a 15 year old girl, offence punishable under Sections 130(1) and (2)(e) and 131(1) of the Tanzanian Penal Code, as Revised in 2002 and was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment after which applicant filed a criminal appeal at High Court of Tanzania and subsequently criminal appeal before Court of Appeal of Tanzania. In both the appeals his sentencing was upheld after which applicant filed an application for review before Court of Appeal which was still pending. Applicant prayed that the guilty verdict and sentence should be annulled and he should be released.

The Court’s jurisdiction was challenged by respondent State stating that applicant wanted the Court to behave like an appellate body by praying to re-examine the matters of fact and get it examined by its judicial bodies. Whereas the Court was not under the power to do so. Applicant contended that if any provisions of this charter were violated then the Court has the power to review the matter. Court was of the view that though it is not an Appellate Court, can still examine if the procedure by national court were in conformity with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Therefore, Court stated itself to have material jurisdiction.

Respondent further objected to the admissibility of the application on two grounds that applicant had not exhausted all his local remedies and that he delayed the filing of application beyond a reasonable time. The Court observed that applicant has exhausted the local remedies as envisaged under Article 56(5) of the Charter and Rule 40(5) of the Rules of Court. On the second ground Court again favoured applicant stating him to be indigent, incarcerated person without any legal assistance which justifies his delay in filing the application.

Applicant in his application had alleged that his right to be heard was abridged by the Court of Appeal as they examined only a few arguments of the applicant while leaving the other argument unattended. However, the Court found no violation of applicant’s right to be heard.

Therefore, in light of the fact that applicant’s rights were not infringed his prayer to annul his conviction and sentence along with his prayer to be released from prison was dismissed. [Minani Evarist v. United Republic of Tanzania,2018 SCC OnLine ACTHPR 1, dated 21-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter relating to Journalist Rajdev Ranjan’s murder, where counsel appearing for the petitioners had argued that Md. Shahabuddin, who was spotted with one of the accused persons who was absconding after the crime, should be transferred from Siwan Jail to Tihar Jail as he has been successfully instrumental in committing the crime while in jail or while he is out from jail even for a minimum period of time, the Bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ issued notice to Md. Shahabuddin in this regard and listed the matter to be taken up on 28.11.2016.

It was brought into the notice of the Court that Md. Shahabuddin is facing 45 criminal cases which are pending for trial and it is the admitted position that 44 trials are pending in the State of Bihar and one in the State of Jharkhand and if he is allowed to be a catalyst or a motivator in the crimes by operating from jail, the justice for which the victims in 45 cases are crying would face incurable hazard and jeopardy. It was argued that when a person goes beyond the bounds of law and becomes a history-sheeter, the Court is required to pass appropriate orders, regard being had to the societal necessity. It was further added by Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petioners, that the trial can be held through video-conferencing so that the rights of an under trial are not affected.

The transfer was sought as one Chandrakeshwar Prasad had preferred the writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India that his two sons were abducted and murdered for which Md. Shahabuddin was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for life and that the appeal against the said conviction and sentence is pending before the High Court. He also submitted that his third son was also done to death two days prior to giving evidence in court in respect of trial of his other two brothers. The counsel appearing for the petitioners submitted that if such a history-sheeter is allowed to remain in the jail of Siwan Jail, the distress and the agony of the family of the petitioners would know no bound. [Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1167, decided on 24.10.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Considering the dire need for prison reform, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and R.K. Agrawal, JJ said that prisoners, like all other human beings, deserve to be treated with dignity. Taking note of the fact that the prisons suffer from a wide range of problems like overcrowding, delay in trial, custodial deaths, inadequacy of staff, Insubstantial food and inadequate clothing, etc, the Court said that despite of the various discussions and decisions by this Court regarding this issue over the last 35 years, we are still struggling with resolution of this problem.

Hence, the Court issued the below mentioned directions in order to tackle the situation:

  1. The Under Trial Review Committee, which has been set up in various States, should meet quarterly and the first meeting should be held before 31st March, 2016.
  2. Aspects pertaining to effective implementation of Section 436 of the Cr.P.C. and Section 436A of the Cr.P.C. and those who cannot furnish bail bonds due to their poverty are not subjected to incarceration only for that reason should be considered.
  3. Adequate number of competent lawyers should be empanelled to assist undertrial prisoners and convicts, particularly the poor and indigent.
  4. Issue of the release of undertrial prisoners in compoundable offences, should be looked into, the effort being to effectively explore the possibility of compounding offences rather than requiring a trial to take place.
  5. Proper and effective utilization of available funds so that the living conditions of the prisoners is commensurate with human dignity.
  6. Ministry of Home Affairs will ensure that the Management Information System is in place at the earliest in all the Central and District Jails as well as jails for women so that there is better and effective management of the prison and prisoners.
  7. Annual review of the implementation of the Model Prison Manual 2016 should be conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Court also issued a notice to the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India in order to ensure that a manual similar to the Model Prison Manual is prepared in respect of juveniles who are in custody either in Observation Homes or Special Homes or Places of Safety in terms of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. [Re – Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 121 decided on 05.02.2016]