How Kerala High Court’s prompt intervention ensured a convict tortured by prison officials received medical attention within hours of hearing

A Division Bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha took a series of extraordinary steps yesterday, acting on a writ petition filed by the prisoner's parents.
How Kerala High Court’s prompt intervention ensured a convict tortured by prison officials received medical attention within hours of hearing
K Vinod Chandran, MR Anitha

In an unexpected series of events, the Kerala High Court on Friday directed an Additional District Judge and two Medical Officers to visit a convict housed in the Poojapura Central prison to ascertain his well-being (Jerom Kochukutty v. State of Kerala).

A Division Bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha took a series of extraordinary steps acting on a writ petition filed by the prisoner's parents.

The petition

The parents, through a writ petition filed through Senior Advocate KP Satheesan instructed by Advocate SK Adhithyan, accused prison officials of torturing their son, Tittu whilst in custody and also alleged that they were not being allowed to visit him inside the prison.

What happened after the Bench heard the case

Without any delay, the Court issued directions to the Thiruvananthapuram Additional District Judge – II to visit the jail, along with the Inspector General of Police and Medical Officers to verify the correctness of the allegations in the petition.

The Court directed that a report be dispatched as soon as the Additional District Judge ascertained the convict’s status.

The second hearing

After this, the matter was taken up again in the evening, but since the report had not been received, the judges indicated that they would hear the case in-Chamber.

Hearing in chamber

At around 5 PM yesterday, Justice Chandran personally telephoned the Additional District Judge so as to ascertain Tittu’s status. Over the phone, the Additional Judge stated that he had spoken to Tittu who accused officials of beating him on the back of his chest.

A medical examination confirmed that Tittu showed wounds and signs indicative of renal injury and recommended shifting him to a medical facility, the Judge’s written report revealed.

The manhandling was a reaction to reports that certain convicts were found consuming alcohol inside the prison, it was additionally stated.

The Inspector General of Police did not accompany the team, the judge’s report said.

Concluding his report, the Additional Judge submitted that Tittu was shifted to Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram for treatment after his medical examination.

The Result

Admitting the petition, the Court directed the Inspector General of Police to conduct an inquiry and forward a report to the Court by Saturday.

In the meanwhile, the Court emphasized that Tittu was to be protected. Ordering that personnel of the Central Prisons were not allowed near him, the Court enjoined the Police to ensure his safety as also his secure detention during his treatment at the Medical College Hospital.

With these directions, the matter was posted for January 11, 2021.

Tittu is among those convicted for the murder of one Kevin, a dalit Christian, in a suspected case of honour killing.

K Vinod Chandran, MR Anitha
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