Eleven inmates of the Guwahati Central Jail on Monday approached the Gauhati High Court challenging the legality of the orders of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup (Rural), on sale and consumption of ‘Tamul Paan’ (betel nuts and betel leaves) in the jail canteen.
The 11 convicts, undergoing rigorous imprisonment of various durations, filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging the CJM’s order whereby he rejected the prayer of 413 jail inmates, including the petitioners, to allow the sale and consumption of ‘Tamul Paan’ in the jail canteen.
Advocate Amit Goyal, appearing for the inmates, said that against the CJM’s oral order of October 31 last year, 403 jail inmates had jointly approached the District and Sessions Judge, Kamrup (R), on January 6, 2016 through the Superintendent of Central Jail, Guwahati.
In their application, the inmates stated inter alia that sale and consumption of betel nuts and betel leaves may be allowed in the jail canteen.
The inmates also made a prayer to permit them to consume betel leaf and betel nuts inside the jail as the inmates had already undertaken to maintain cleanliness of the premises.
They claimed consumption of betel leaf and nuts will refresh their body.
The representation was thereafter forwarded by the Sessions Judge, Kamrup (R) to the CJM, Kamrup (Rural) for disposal on January 29. The Chief Judicial Magistrate rejected the plea the same day after upholding the earlier oral order dated October 31, 2015.
The petitioners on Monday assailed the action of the Sessions Judge, Kamrup (R), in transferring the application to the CJM, who had himself turned down their plea.
The petitioners contended that it is a settled principle that no judge can judge his/her own order.
Advocate Goyal claimed the CJM, Kamrup (R), had passed the impugned order without authority of law in as much as no power has been conferred upon him to pass orders in respect of administration of jail and day-to-day activities of the prisoners.
Maintaining that the CJM ought to have given suggestions to the jail Superintendent or the Inspector-General (prisons) for consideration, the Advocate said it was up to them to implement his recommendation or not.
In the present case, he contended, the CJM had trenched upon the power expressly reserved under the rules for the Superintendent of Jail and/or Inspector General of Prison and passed the impugned orders.