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Prisoners Act, 1900


15. Power for officers in charge of prisons to give effect to sentences or certain Courts

(1) Officers in charge of prisons outside the Presidency-town may give effect to any sentence or order or warrant for the detention of any person passed or issued-

(a) by any Court or tribunal acting, whether within the States under the general or special authority of the Central Government, or of the Government of Burma, or by any Court or tribunal, which was before the commencement of the constitution acting under the general or special authority of His Majesty, or of the Crown Representative; or

(b) before the 26th January, 1950, by any Court or tribunal in any Indian State-

(i) if the presiding Judge, or if the Court or tribunal consisted of two or more Judges, at least one of the Judges, was an officer of the Crown authorized to sit as such Judge by the State or the Ruler thereof or by the Central Government or the Crown Representative; and

(ii) if the reception, detention or imprisonment in any Province of India of person sentenced by any such Court or tribunal had been authorized by general or special order by the State Government; or

(c) by any other Court or tribunal in a Part B with the previous sanction of the State Government in the case of each such sentence, order or warrant:

Provided that effect shall not be given to any sentence order or warrant for detention passed or issued by any Court or tribunal in Burma without the previous sanction of the State Government concerned.

(2) Where a Court or tribunal of such an Indian State as aforesaid has passed a sentence which could not have been executed without the occurrence of an officer of the Crown, and such sentence had been considered on the merits and confirmed by any such officer specially authorized in that behalf, such sentence, and nay order or warrant issued in pursuance thereof, shall be deemed to be sentence, order or warrant of a Court or tribunal acting under the authority of the Central Government or the Crown Representative.]

Comment: To give effect to the sentence means that it is illegal to exceed it and so it follows that a prison official who goes beyond mere imprisonment or deprivation of locomotion and assaults or otherwise compels the doing of things not covered by the sentence acts in violation of Art. 19. Punishments of rigorous imprisonment oblige the inmates to do hard labor, not harsh labor and so a vindictive officer victimizing a prisoner by forcing on him particularly harsh and degrading jobs, vocatives the law's mandate. For example, a prisoner, if forced to carry night soil, may seek a habeas writ. 'Hard labor' in S.53 has to receive a humane meaning. A girl student or a male weakling sentenced to rigorous imprisonment may not be forced to break stones for nine hours a day. The prisoner cannot demand soft jobs but may reasonably be assigned congenial jobs. Sense and sympathy are not enemies of penal asylums. Sunil Batra, Petitioner v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1980 SUPREME COURT 1579



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