The petitioner had claimed that he was not being allowed to meet his clients, facing a case probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), at the special sub jail at Ponnamallee since April 21.

The Madras High Court has been informed that the Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services has relaxed the ban imposed on interviews between prisoners and their lawyers due to COVID-19 and has now ordered that such interviews could be permitted in sub jails which do not have telephone facility.

The submission was made before Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan who was seized of a writ petition filed by advocate A. Nowfil. The petitioner had claimed that he was not being allowed to meet his clients, facing a case probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), at the special sub jail at Ponnamallee since April 21.

The writ petitioner’s counsel M. Abdul Basith told the court that the advocate wanted to meet H. Mohammed Riyaz, A. Mohammed Asarudeen, S. Nizam Ali, M. Mohamed Rizwan, Y. Sarbhudeen, K. Mohamed Thowfiq, I. Mohamed Farvees, T. Towheed Basha and K. Mohammed Faruk booked for the murder of PMK member Ramalingam.

The case was initially booked by the Tiruvidaimaruthur police in Thanjavur district in February 2019 and transferred to the NIA in May of the same year. It was the case of the prosecution that the accused had murdered the politician because he had opposed religious conversion, removed the skullcap of a Muslim and applied sacred ashes on his forehead.

Since the bail petitions of the accused had been dismissed by the special court in Poonnamalee for exclusive trial of bomb blast cases as well as the High Court, the writ petitioner wanted to meet his clients to take steps to file bail applications in the Supreme Court and also for getting instructions to conduct the case pending before the trial court.

However, since he was not allowed to meet his clients for months together, he had moved the present writ petition seeking professional access. In reply, Government Advocate M. Elumalai told the court that prisoners lodged in central prisons were allowed to talk to their lawyers over the phone and to their relatives over video calls after suspension of personal interviews.

Since sub jails lacked telephone facilities, it was ordered that lawyers alone could be allowed to meet the prisoners in emergency situations or for urgent reasons after submitting a report that they had been tested negative for COVID-19. After recording his submission, the judge ordered that the petitioner must be allowed to meet his clients on proper application.

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