Kerala Union of Working journalist v. Union of India
, Supreme Court of
India, Writ Petition (Crl.) No(s). 307 OF 2020, Bench- Chief Justice N V Ramana,
Justice Surya Kant and Justice A S Bopanna
Kerala Union of Working Journalist v. Union of India
is a case which covers the
ambit of Right to life against undertrial prisoners.
As per 78th Report of Law Commission of India, "an undertrial prisoner is a
person who has been detained in prison during the period of investigation,
inquiry or trial for the offence they are accused to have committed".
The writ of Habeas corpus is issued by Supreme Court under article 32 of Indian
constitution and Article 226 of Indian Constitution by High Courts. The term
in Latin means, "let us have the body". This writ is issued in order to set
free a person who in opinion of the court is arbitrary arrested or detained by
According to the opinion of the Court, "the Fundamental Right to life embraces
undertrial prisoners as well."
Background of the case
Under article 32 of Indian Constitution, writ of Habeas Corpus was filed for the
release of alleged detenu, Sidhique Kappan who is stated to be a journalist and
a member of the Petitioner Association- Kerala Union of Working journalist. He
was arrested as per the section 153A, 295A and 124A of IPC 1860, section 17, 14
of unlawful Activity Prevention Act, 1967 and sections 65, 72, 76 of IT Act,
It was contested that he was illegally taken into custody on October 5, 2021
without any prior notice or order as per the procedure envisaged in Criminal
Procedure Code, 1973 under section 107. On November 20, 2020, State of UP
contested the allegations of illegal detention by issuing counter affidavit,
also on December 9, 2020 supplementary affidavit was filed stating the detention
of alleged detenu was lawful as he was booked under the section 153A, 295A and
124A of IPC 1860, section 17, 14 of unlawful Activity Prevention Act, 1967 and
sections 65, 72, 76 of IT Act, 2008.
Meanwhile petitioner subsequently filed an application for interim directions
amid Sidhique Kappan's deteriorating health. Also, by the time detenu tested
covid positive on April 21, 2021 and it was revealed by the "bed head ticket"
that he had multiple other diseases like, diabetes, heart ailment, blood
pressure and bodily injury. Although, an additional affidavit was issued stating
that tested negative for covid.
It was stated by the Court, that the inquiry will be limited to providing the
necessary health care to the accused in line to limited relief as from the
records, it was clear that the accused was produced before jurisdictional court,
FIR was registered, investigation is completed and a voluminous charged sheet
had been filed. Also, the alleged has other remedies like right to approach
competent court for grant of bail or redressal of grievances under section 482
Court held that owing to the precarious health condition of detainee, he shall
receive adequate and effective medical assistance. Although Solicitor General
emphasized that he already receives medical facilities as all other jail
inmates. Herein, Supreme Court stated that merely other jail inmates are also
receiving similar treatment is no excuse.
Right to life unconditionally
embraces even an undertrial. The court quashed writ petition stated that as soon
as he recovers, he shall be transfer back to the Mathura jail although, he can
avail other remedies in accordance to law i.e., granting bail or quashing
Facts in issue:
- Maintainability of petition
- Interim direction and release on bail due to deteriorating health
The Court stated the legal issues will not be examined but the enquiry will be
based on providing necessary health care in line with adequate relief.
Respondents' argument that other detainee receive similar medical aid cannot
deter the court, although accused can avail remedies in accordance with law.
Fundamental Right to life embraces every person. Thus, in accordance to it, the
pertinent legal care and adequate relief shall be provided to undertrial
prisoners as well.
Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta appeared for the State of Uttar Pradesh
contested that Siddique Kappan received medical aid similar to other jail
It was held by the Supreme Court of India that "the most precious fundamental
'right to life' unconditionally embraces even an undertrial. The consideration
made herein is keeping in view the peculiar facts and circumstances of this
case. Merely because the other jail inmates are receiving treatment similar to
the arrestee need not deter us."
The Court observed that, Siddique Kappan was not illegally detained, proper
investigation, chargesheet were filed thus court did not intervene and examined
the detailed facts and focused only in line with adequate health care and relief
to the accused. Meanwhile, he was diagnosed covid positive. Also, his medical
report suggest that he has diabetes, heart ailment, blood pressure and bodily
injury although, later by the additional affidavit, it was said that he is covid
Mere fact that other jail inmates receives similar aid cannot deter
court. Herein, right to life embraces undertrial prisoners as well. Thus, he
shall be shifted to government Hospital for proper medication. As and when
doctors certify him fit, he should be shifted back to the jail and can avail the
remedies as stated in the law.
In Kerala Union of Working Journalist v. Union of India
, at the end it was held
that even undertrials are subject to fundamental Right to life. They are
entitled to receive adequate medical aid and reliefs pertinent to their needs.
- 21729_2020_31_16_27786_Order_28-Apr-2021.pdf (sci.gov.in)
- Types of Writs in Indian Constitution - Polity Notes (byjus.com)
- What is Habeas Corpus and how to use it - iPleaders
- 7026de_c8b123c5371b423990783d128f58c9e6.pdf (usrfiles.com)
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Navya Jain
Authentication No: MR208722184937-28-0322