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AIR 1980 SC 1579


death sentence by Sessions Court
appeal still lies
subject to solitary confinement
ordered detention
put in bar fetters
fetters were retained continuously for 24 hours a day

Issue raised
Challenged the vires of section 30 of prisoners act.
30. (1) Every prisoner under sentence of death shall,
immediately on his arrival in the prison after sentence,
be searched by, or by order of, the Deputy
Superintendent, and all articles shall be taken from him
which the Deputy Superintendent deems it dangerous or
inexpedient to leave in his possession.
(2) Every such prisoner, shall be confined in a cell
apart from all other prisoners, and shall be placed by
day and by night under charge of a guard.

Arguments of respondents
State of mind of such prisoners
may indulge in harming themselves or any other
criminal activity in their voluntary discretion or be
harmed by any other prisoner.
can connive with such prisoners and may
thereby succeed in getting some instrument by
which he may commit suicide or may be enabled
to escape from the jail.

a prisoner under sentence of death has a very

harmful influence on the other prisoners.
As they are highly frustrated lot, they will always
be on the look out for an opportunity to overpower the watch and ward guard, and make
attempt to escape
If mixed up with other categories of prisoners
then the superintendence and management of
jails will be greatly jeopardised.

Whether Section 30 contemplates solitary
confinement for condemned prisoners.
whether such total seclusion, even if covered by
Section 30(2) is the correct construction of the
whether we have to pronounce upon the vires of
Section 30(2), if it does condemn the death
sentencees to dismal solitude

Meaning of solitary confinement

Segregation of one person all alone in a single
cell is solitary confinement
Court alone can impose
This meaning cannot be given to 30(2), confined
in a cell- different meaning.
the separation is authorised, but within the same

46. The Superintendent may examine any person touching any

such offence, and determine thereupon and punish such
offence by(8) separate confinement for any period not exceeding three
Explanation :-Separate confinement means such confinement
with or without labour as secludes a prisoner from
communication with, but not from sight of other prisoners, and
allows him not less than one hour's exercise per diem and to
have his meals in association with one or more other
(10) cellular confinement for any period not exceeding fourteen
Section 30(2) - separation without isolation, keeping apart
without close confinement.

366(2)- The Court passing the sentence shall commit the

convicted person to jail custody under a warrant.

Guest in custody
Safe- keeping
No scope for deprivation and isolation

2 elements of 32(2)
Watch by guards

Is Batra under sentence of death

366- sessions court submits the case to
the HC
134c/ 136- HC gives certificate
415- postponement of sentence, in case
of appeal.
72 /161- president/ governor can grant

Solitary confinement NOT AT ALL
sanctioned by 30(2)
30(2)- no substitute for imprisonment
30 is intra-vires, but Batra cant be
subjected to solitary confinement.

Constitutionality of 56
56. Whenever the Superintendent considers it
necessary for the safe custody of any prisoners
that they should be confined in irons, he may,
subject to such rules and instructions as may be
laid down by the Inspector General with the
sanction of the State Government so confine

Arguments of respondents
Preventive medicine for 'dangerousness'
to inhibit violence and escape.
Requirements of 56
Safe custody ALONE (escaping tendencies)
Necessity to confine (opinion of SP)
Intelligent care
Not just desirable, but NECESSARY.
Reasons furnished + recorded (suitable language)
Brief periods and frequent scrutiny (not more than 3
months and nocturnal fetters illegal)
Visitors of jail (external examinators)

(i) absolute necessity for fetters;

(ii) special reasons why no other
alternative but fetters alone
(iii) record of those reasons
(iv) such record must be full and
documented both in the journal of the
Superintendent and the history ticket of the
prisoner. This latter should be in the
language of the prisoner so that he may
have communication and recourse to
(v) the basic condition of dangerousness
must be well grounded and recorded;

(vi) objective assessment of facts (relevance to

safe custody)
(vii) the fetters shall be removed at the earliest
(vii) there shall be a daily review of the absolute
need for the fetters,
(viii) if it is found that the fetters must continue
beyond a day it shall be held illegal unless an
outside agency like the District Magistrate or
Sessions Judge, on materials placed, directs its

Undertrials: relaxed conditions than
If violence, then iron fetters permissable,
but ONLY if no alternatives
Burden on proof.
Sobraj- fetters to be removed, locomotion