A federal prisoner (“Mapara”) was successful in seeking an order in the nature of habeas corpus with certiorari in aid and for an order that he be transferred from the Mountain Institution back to the Ferndale Institution where the Court found that the transfer decision was null and void for want of jurisdiction

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Prisons – Transfer of inmates – Judicial review – Natural justice – Jurisdiction

Mapara v. Ferndale Institution (Warden), [2007] B.C.J. No. 99, British Columbia Supreme Court, January 19, 2007, Scarth J.

Mountain Institution is a medium-security federal penitentiary. Ferndale Institution is a minimum-security federal penitentiary. The Warden of Ferndale Institution increased Mapara’s security classification from minimum security to medium security and approved his transfer from Ferndale Institution to Mountain Medium Security Institution based, on part, on certain allegations made by Mapara’s estranged wife. Mapara was serving a sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 25 years, imposed following his conviction on a charge of first degree murder in February 2001. Mapara alleged that the Warden’s transfer decision was patently unreasonable and therefore made without jurisdiction.

The Court allowed Mapara’s application agreeing that the Warden had made a patently unreasonable finding that Mapara posed a security risk because that finding was based on allegations made by Mapara’s estranged wife, who had a motive to lie and in fact did lie with respect to matters germane to what the Warden had to decide. The Court acknowledged that the Warden had to be guided in making such decisions by the principle that she give paramount consideration to the protection of society. However, the application of that principle did not obviate the need on her part to conform to the principles of natural justice in deciding whether Mapara posed a sufficient risk to require an increase in his security classification and transfer to a higher security institution. In this case, the tenuous nature of the allegations against Mapara and the Warden’s recognition that further investigation of the allegations was required, but never carried out, resulted in decisions that were patently unreasonable.

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