Bench Press 38-5: Habeas Corpus in Modern Times - LawNow Magazine

Bench Press 38-5: Habeas Corpus in Modern Times

Bench PressThe Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously in favour of a federal penitentiary prisoner who challenged a prison warden’s decision to transfer him from medium to maximum security. Gurkipal Khela used the ancient writ of Habeas Corpus: the right to go before a court to challenge his or her detention.  The Supreme Court stated that, to be lawful, such a transfer decision must be reasonable, justifiable, transparent and intelligible.  The reasons for and a record of the decision must support the conclusion.  It wrote: “A decision will be unreasonable and, and therefore, unlawful, if an inmate’s liberty interests are sacrificed absent any evidence or on the basis of unreliable or irrelevant evidence, or evidence that cannot support the conclusion.”  In this case, the Court found that the warden did not disclose all of her information to the prisoner and did not give him an adequate summary of the missing information, as she was required to do under the Corrections and Conditional Release ActHer decision was therefore procedurally unfair, and the Court granted Mr. Khela’s application. His victory was short-lived however; his classification was later changed, his appeal of that decision was unsuccessful and he was transferred back to a maximum security institution.

Mission Institution v. Khela, 2014 SCC 24 (CanLII)



Teresa Mitchell
Teresa Mitchell
Teresa Mitchell is the former Editor and Legal Writer for LawNow at the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.

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