A total 11 convicted inmates undergoing punishment of Rigorous Imprisonment for life presently lodged in the Guwahati Central Jail, Sarusajai, Guwahati approached Gauhati High Court challenging legality and validity of the orders passed by the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup (Rural) whereby the learned CJM has rejected the prayer of 413 inmates including the present petitioners of the Guwahati Central Jail to allow the sale and consumption of “Tamol Pan” in the jail canteen of the Guwahati Central Jail.
Mr. Amit Goyal , Advocate appearing for the inmates said that against the oral order dated 31.10.2015 passed by the learned CJM, 403 jail inmates jointly approached the learned District and Sessions Judge, Kamrup (R) by way of filing an application dated 06.01.2016 through the Superintendent of Central Jail, Guwahati stating inter alia that sale and consumption of betel nuts and betel leaf may be allowed in the jail canteen. In the said application prayer was made to allow sale and consumption of betel nuts and betel leaf inside the jail canteen and not to deprive inmates the only habit which they have developed. The said representation was thereafter forwarded to the learned CJM, Kamrup for disposal on 29.01.2016 by the learned Sessions Judge, Kamrup (R) and on the same day the learned CJM, Kamrup (R) disposed of the said representation vide order dated 29.01.2016 wherein, the prayer of the jail inmates were rejected by upholding its earlier oral order dated 31.10.2015. The petitioners further assail the action of the learned Sessions Judge, Kamrup (R) in transferring the application to the authority to decide the matter against the order passed by himself. It is a settle principle that no own can judge its own order. But in the present case, learned District Sessions Judge forwarded the application to learned CJM to decide the application preferred by the jail inmates against the oral order dated 31.10.2015 passed by the learned CJM himself. It is relevant to mention herein that in the application dated 06.01.2016, prayer was made by the jail inmates to give them an opportunity to consume betel leaf and betel nuts inside the jail premises as the jail inmates had already undertook to maintain the neat and cleanliness of the jail premises even if consumption of the same would be permitted. In the said application it was further stated that availability of betel leaf and betel nuts inside the jail premises and permission to consume the same among the jail inmates definitely make little difference in their minds and thoughts which according to them refreshes their body.
Mr. Goyal , advocate appearing for the prisoners said that learned CJM, Kamrup (R) has passed the impugned orders dated 29.01.2016 without authority of law in as much as no power has been conferred upon the learned CJM to pass orders in respect of administration of jail and day to day activities of the prisoners .
Further the learned CJM has exceeded his jurisdiction having no authority of law and passed the impugned orders. The learned CJM ought to have record the date and hour of his visit and ought to have record the remarks in respect of sale and consumption of betel nuts and leafs (“Tamol Pan) inside the jail canteen . Further, the learned CJM ought to have give suggestions to the Superintendent or the Inspector- General for consideration. It is upto the Superintendent to pass or not to pass any order on the basis of the remarks and/or suggestions given by the learned CJM. But in the present case learned CJM has trench upon the power expressly reserved by the Rules to the Superintendent of Jail and/or Inspector General of Prison and passed the impugned orders. It is settle law that Authority should not trench upon the power expressly reserved by the Act or the Rules to other Authorities and cannot ignore the limits inherent in exercise of those powers. Being aggrieved by the impugned orders passed by the learned CJM as the same is without jurisdiction, without authority of law and is not sustainable in the eyes and total 11 prisoners approached Gauhati High Court by way of filing of writ petition seeking direction to the Jail Authorities to allow sale and consumption of “Tamol-Pan” inside the jail canteen. In this matter Mr. Arunabh choudhury advocate is also appearing for the prisoners.