‘Shocking’ cannot keep a prisoner in solitary confinement for more than 14 days

“I forgot how to communicate with human beings, all human feeling was wiped out, even animals are not kept like this”, Imran Shaikh, a prisoner sentenced to solitary confinement for 2 years and four months, had written in anguish to the superintendent of Aurangabad central prison, to no avail.

Last week, the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court took notice of the letter from Shaikh’s wife and ordered the prison official to transfer him to a regular prison cell with immediate effect, and ordered a team of doctors to visit the prison and check on his condition.

“We are shocked to read the allegations made in the petition as well as in the representation submitted by the prisoner himself and his wife – petitioner before us.”

The court further ordered the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Aurangabad to visit Shaikh in jail, record his statement and report to the HC on the condition of Anda’s cell.

The court observed that Section 46 (10) of the Prisoners Act does not allow solitary confinement beyond the period of 14 days. The 14-day period can only be repeated after the prisoner has been transferred to an ordinary cell for an equal number of days.

“Although under the provisions of Section 46(10) of the Prisoners Act solitary confinement cannot be granted beyond the period of 14 days qualified by the proviso and explanation, however, the convicted petitioner’s husband Imran @ Mehedi Nasir Shaikh has been kept in solitary confinement continuously for the past 2 years and 4 months.”

After the HC administration received the letter from Shaikh’s wife, Ruheena, they appointed Barrister Rupesh Jaiswal from the Legal Services Sub-Committee of the Aurangabad High Court to represent her.

Shaikh, was found guilty of murder, destruction of evidence and under sections of the Maharashtra Organized Crime Control Act (MCOCA). Jaiswal said that after being sentenced to solitary confinement, he wrote to the SP in September 2021 but received no response. Two years had then passed.

In the letter, he said the solitary confinement had affected his spirit. He had hallucinations and suffered from other mental problems and illnesses. His medical conditions included severe stenia – abnormal response to non-depleting muscle relaxation, diabetes, high blood pressure, 180 stitches on his abdomen. “Therefore, in the name of reform and in view of my multiple medical issues, I ask that you please remove me from solitary confinement at Anda Barrack before this illness of mental illness becomes more complicated.”

Jaiswal said that in December last year, Shaikh’s wife Ruheena said she met her husband and that his condition was deteriorating and he was unable to communicate properly with her. Still nothing happened.

Finally, HC had learned of Shaikh’s fate. In its order, the court recorded some observations of SC in Charles Gurmukh Sobraj v Delhi Administration and others that solitary confinement, solitary confinement is inhumane and irrational.

With the above instructions, the court adjourned the case for January 31.

Case title: Shaikh Ruheena vs Maharashtra State

Case no: PETN CRIMINAL EXPENSE. No. 119 OF 2022

Quote: 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 26

Click here to read/download the order

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