The Delhi High Court has sought response of the Delhi government and jail authorities on a plea seeking ayurvedic doctors for prisoners lodged in the high-security ward of Tihar jail, without any discrimination.
Justice Mukta Gupta asked the authorities to file a status report and listed the matter for further hearing on January 25.
The plea filed by prisoner Daya Singh Lahoria claimed that he was suffering from serious ailments and has been recommended hot water by an orthopedic doctor and it was also allowed by the trial court but the jail authorities were not providing it despite repeated requests.
He sought direction to jail authorities to provide facilities for keeping electronic kettle for hot water as recommended by the orthopedic doctor.
Advocate Harpreet Singh Hora, appearing for Lahoria, alleged that unani/ayurvedic doctor was being provided to the prisoners but the jail authorities were acting in a “discriminatory manner” and have discontinued the same to the prisoners lodged in the high-security ward of the Tihar jail, that is ward number 8/9.
The plea said no reason was given by the authorities for discontinuing the Unani doctor’s treatment.
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has asked the director general of prisons to give details of the facilities, Observing that several inmates lodged in Tihar Jail here require physiotherapy, including the number of machines and trained physiotherapists, available at the prison.
Justice Mukta Gupta issued the direction while hearing a plea of Jagtar Singh Hawara, undergoing life sentence for conspiring to assassinate former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
He has sought special facilities for treatment of his back pain and other spinal problems.
The court noted that while Hawara was being provided the necessary medical and other facilities for his ailment, there were other inmates in the jail who require physiotherapy.
“The issue which needs consideration is the fact that a lot of inmates require the facility of physiotherapy,” it said.
“In this regard a detailed affidavit will be filed by DG (Prisons) before the next date detailing the number of machines available for physiotherapy in the (Tihar) jail dispensary, whether they are in working condition or not and whether trained physiotherapist are available for the same,” it said
Tihar Jail authorities have brushed aside in the Delhi High Court allegations by controversial RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin that he was being kept in solitary confinement and tortured, saying he was lodged in a high security cell with all the facilities given to any other inmate incarcerated there.
Taking note of the submission, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji asked the politician, who was transferred to Tihar Jail from Siwan Jail in Bihar on the Supreme Court’s order, to move a representation before the prison authorities if he was aggrieved by the conditions in which he was lodged there.
The court asked the prison authorities to expeditiously decide the representation when it is moved and with the direction disposed of his plea that claimed he was being kept in solitary confinement and tortured in Tihar Jail.
In an affidavit, filed through Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, the prison authorities have contended that Shahabuddin’s “allegation that he is being tortured in solitary confinement is totally baseless, false and figment of his imagination as he has not been lodged in solitary confinement”.
“In fact the petitioner is lodged in a cell of a separate block of High Security Ward of Central Jail No 02, Tihar, New Delhi. All the basic amenities and facilities are provided to the petitioner as per provisions of Delhi Prison Rules 1998. It is pertinent to mention here that solitary confinement is used by the petitioner in wrong spirit, whereas he has been lodged in a cell with all such facilities as available to other High Security Prisoners,” the affidavit also said.
It also stated that there were no restrictions on his day-to-day activities and he has been given canteen, library, telephone, cable TV as well as medical facilities.
Can a man convicted in one state be lodged in prison in another state where there is no case against him and is such imprisonment legal?
These were posers put to the Delhi government by the Delhi High Court today during the hearing of a plea of Jagtar Singh Hawara, convicted for conspiring to assassinate former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, claiming that his incarceration in Tihar Jail was illegal as he has not been convicted for any crime in the national capital.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji issued notice to the Delhi government and asked them to indicate in their response why he has not been shifted to a prison in Punjab.
The bench, however, dismissed as “completely misconceived” an application moved by Hawara, through advocate Mehmood Pracha, seeking his release from Tihar Jail.
Pracha, appearing for Hawara, claimed that his client was in illegal detention at Tihar Jail, where he has been lodged since May 2016.
The contention was rejected by the court which said the detention was “not illegal”.
The Delhi government, represented by standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, told the court that Hawara was not shifted to Punjab as there was intelligence inputs that attempts would be made to free him during the transit.
Mehra said initially Hawara was lodged in Tihar Jail, while a case against him was pending trial in Delhi.
However, by the time he was acquitted in the case here, he was convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case leading him to remain in jailed here, the lawyer said and added that in view of this factual position, his detention here was not illegal.
The bench listed the matter for hearing on May 28.
Besides seeking his release from Tihar Jail, the habeas corpus plea moved on behalf of Hawara seeks that he should be produced before the court. It also claimed that the trial in the cases against him in Punjab were stalled as due to his imprisoned here.
The claim has been refuted by the Delhi government which has said that trial in those cases were proceeding via video conferencing.
Noting that the inmates lodged in Tihar Jail here are being referred to outside hospitals for even basic treatments, the Delhi High Court has directed the chief secretary of the city government to convene a meeting to work out a plan for improving facilities at the central jail.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that the hospital at the Central Jail was working as a referral centre due to lack of facilities and since 12,000 prisoners were lodged there, “it is absolutely imperative that due medical attention is paid to them”.
The court directed the chief secretary of Delhi government to hold a meeting with the principal secretary of home deparment, principal secretary of Department of Health and Family Welfare and the Director General of Prisons at the earliest.
The bench said that subsequent to the meeting, an affidavit shall be filed by the chief secretary indicating the time line within which action shall be taken for ensuring improvement of the existing facilities.
A direction has been issued to the principal secretary of Department of Health and Family Welfare to place before the court a time line within which recruitment would be made to the vacant posts at all levels, including for mental health experts.
Noting that there are extensive referrals to outside hospitals for anti-retroviral therapy (ART), used for treating AIDS patients, the court asked the secretary of Delhi State Aids Control Society to join the meeting and listed the matter for further hearing on May 2.
The directions came after the court perused a note and an affidavit filed by a Residential Medical Officer of Tihar Jail who had said that “the Central Jail Hospital is basically working as a secondary health care centre with very limited facilities. There is an urgent need to increase facilities so that morbidity and mortality among inmates could be minimised”.
The doctor had also placed before the court the referral statistics according to which between November 2015 to December 2017, 3358 visits were made to outside hospitals for ART, 2215 visits for radiotherapy and surgery, 1797 for eye care and 1700 for dental care.
Apart from these, thousands of referrals were also made for medicine, orthopaedics and ENT, the court noted.
“These statistics would show that outside hospital visits are required for some very basic treatments and that the Central Jail Hospital is in fact working as a referral centre,” the bench said.
The court also said that “it appears that the facilities at the Central Jail Hospital, Tihar, New Delhi, have not been examined or improved upon for a long time. The above comprehensive proposal (given by the jail doctor) reflects that important matters such has filling-up of posts of specialists and medical officers are pending.
“Forty-nine posts recently created for the Mental Health Unit are still awaiting engagement of experts. Several deficiencies in infrastructure are pointed out which include essential equipment and the facilities in the casualty, de-addiction centre and behavioural therapy ward as well as basic infrastructure for doctors, amongst other improvements,” it noted.
The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it to look into the medical facilities available for prisoners in the Central Jail, Tihar.
In the same matter, the court is also looking into the infrastructure available at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital which provides medical facilities to undertrials and convicts lodged in Tihar Jail.
The court had taken up the issue after it received a complaint alleging that high profile prisoners were being permitted repeated and prolonged medical visits outside the jail.
Jail authorities are “custodians” of undertrials on behalf of the judiciary and are supposed to give them proper medical care, treatment and food, a Delhi court has observed while coming down on Tihar Jail officials for not complying with earlier directions.
The court, which was dealing with applications filed by some inmates who sought necessary treatment and food in the prison, said that Tihar jail authorities appeared to be “totally negligent towards treatment and condition of the undertrial prisoners”.
The observations by Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey came in the wake of ongoing debate over safety and security of the inmates of the central jail. The Delhi High Court had recently said that alleged attacks on several undertrials was “very disturbing”.
The high court had formed a panel to probe the alleged brutalities inside the jail.
This issue was also highlighted when a British court had recently refused to extradite alleged bookie Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, a
key accused in the cricket match-fixing scandal involving former South African captain Hansie Cronje in 2000, citing lack of medical provision, risk of being subjected to torture and violence either from other inmates or prison staff in Tihar Jail.
In its order, the trial court also noted that a number of directions passed by it in a separate case earlier were not complied with by the jail authorities.
It directed the jail superintendent concerned to appear in person before it along with a status report and also explain as to why action should not be initiated against him for defying its earlier order.
“Jail authorities are reminded that they being public servants, are only caretaker/custodian of the undertrial prisoners on behalf of judiciary.
“They are supposed to give proper medical care, treatment and food to the inmates. It is seen that despite directions, orders of the court for proper upkeep and providing medical facilities to the inmates are not been complied with,” the trial court said.
It noted that the undertrials generally complain about not being provided with proper medical treatment and food in the jail.
“The court has many times brought the facts of negligence in discharge of official duties to the notice of worthy DG (Prisons) but no noticeable improvement is seen,” it said.
Proper functioning of CCTV cameras in Tihar jail, which is overcrowded with prisoners by over 100 per cent, is a “non-compromisable imperative”, the Delhi High Court has said while setting up a high-level committee to suggest measures for enhancing security of three jails here.
The court said it was aware that Tihar jail was under the Delhi government’s Home Department but to ensure that the exercise was entirely objective and impartial, the three- member panel should not have representatives of the Delhi government.
The committee should get the active cooperation of the Tihar jail administration and the Delhi government, it said.
A bench of justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta directed the secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs to constitute within 10 days the committee which would comprise a retired district judge of Delhi as the chairperson, a senior official of the National Informatics Centre and a senior official of Delhi Police, not below the rank of a deputy commissioner of police.
The court’s directions came on a petition alleging that 47 inmates in Tihar jail were mercilessly beaten up by security personnel inside the prison and that their human rights were violated by the jail authorities.
It directed the panel to submit a report within two months and listed the matter on November 30.
The bench perused the inquiry report of the superintendent of Tihar jail which said only 19 out of 83 CCTV cameras in jail number 3 were functional for a period of 10 days and that at any given point in time, at least 10 per cent of these CCTV cameras are not functional.
Standing counsel Rajiv Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government and Tihar jail, informed the court these 83 CCTV cameras were only for jail no. 3 whereas there were over 500 CCTV cameras at various locations in the entire Tihar jail.
“Tihar jail is one of the largest jails in the country with an inmate population of over 14,500. It is sought to be projected as a ‘model jail’. Considering that the capacity of the jail is around 6000, it is plainly overcrowded by over 100 per cent.
“It is undoubtedly a high security zone. It should be needless to emphasise that the proper functioning of CCTV cameras in Tihar jail complex, on a continuous basis, is an non-compromisable imperative,” the judges said.
The court said it was unable to appreciate as to how for over 10 days, only 19 out of 83 CCTV cameras installed in jail no. 3 were operational without immediate corrective action being taken.
“A CCTV camera that has gone out of order should have been rectified in the shortest possible time, at the highest within a few hours. It is surprising that the inquiry report mentions the above fact but does not concern itself with the obvious delay in getting the CCTV cameras rectified,” it said.
The court asked the committee to examine the functioning of CCTV cameras in the Tihar jail complex, as well as the Rohini and Mandoli jails.
The panel was also directed to formulate a protocol for disaster management and recovery in the event of a crisis. It was asked to suggest measures tested by pilot runs or mock drills.
The bench said that the panel’s emphasis would be placed in having top quality security for the Tihar jail complex comparable with the best international practices followed in high-security prisons.
“The high-level committee will give specific suggestions on preserving the CCTV footages and procuring and maintaining state-of-the-art top quality servers and IT infrastructure required for the purpose. The composition of the technical back up team, to be an integral part of the Tihar Jail administration, should also be indicated by the HLC,” it said.
It also asked the secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs to file a compliance report regarding the directions issued in the order.
The matter had reached the high court when the advocate Mehmood Pracha, appearing for undertrial Jamal who was lodged in Tihar jail number 3 and was facing trial in 11 cases, claimed that his client was not being produced in the lower court despite a direction.
Why are women prisoners in Tihar Jail being denied the benefit of semi-open and open prisons, the Delhi High Court today asked the AAP government and the jail authorities.
The high court sought responses from the Delhi government, Lieutenant Governor and Director General of Prisons on a PIL seeking direction to them to extend the benefit of semi-open prison and open prison to women.
“Why are you denying this to women prisoners? This is very bad. What you are doing is a stereotypical approach.
People should have option, why should you discriminate,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said and listed the matter for November 15.
The petition filed by advocate Sunil Gupta, former legal adviser of Tihar Jail, also sought quashing of the guidelines approved by the LG and other steps initiated to exclude female prisoners from the semi-open prisons and open prisons.
The plea filed through advocate Amit Khemka sought setting up of special semi-open prison and open prison for women prisoners in Delhi Prisons in a time bound manner.
Semi-open prison or open prison allows convicts to work outside the premises of jail and earn livelihood and return to the jail in the evening. This concept is being adopted by the jail authorities across the country.
The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with society and reduce their psychological pressure as they face lack of confidence in leading normal lives outside the jail.
The plea said the guidelines in selection criteria bars women prisoners from treatment of confinement in semi-open prison without any rationale or justification.
“The provision (in guidelines for treatment of convicts in Delhi Prisons) clearly demonstrates the fallacy as it treats ‘women convicts’ as being in the same category as that of ‘dangerous or habitual male prisoners’. There is virtually no justification for this inhuman, discriminatory, arbitrary and ridiculous categorization,” it said.
The plea alleged that the guidelines violated fundamental right of equality of women prisoners in confined in Dehi jails.
The counsel also told the court that only Yerwada Jail in Maharashtra and another prison in Rajasthan extended the benefit of semi-open or open prisons to women prisoners.
A man and his father have been sentenced to varying jail terms of life imprisonment and 10 years by the Delhi High Court in the dowry death case of his wife, who ended her life after consuming pesticide.
The high court upheld the conviction and sentence of the father-son duo, who were held guilty of harassing and cruelly treating the woman for dowry which led to her death in May 1998.
“A careful analysis of the testimony of prosecution witness 1 (brother of victim), which in our view is truthful and reliable and corroborated by the fact that the demands were made even in the past and in fact, succumbing to the demand, Rs 50,000 were paid in three installments, we are of the view that the trial court had rightly convicted the two appellants for dowry death,” a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said.
The court, which upheld the conviction of the victim’s mother-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law for the offence of harassing her, absolved them of the charge of dowry death saying no specific incident was mentioned by witnesses to show that they had tortured or demanded dowry from the deceased and her parents just before her death.
They were sentenced to imprisonment already undergone by them during the trial before the lower court.
The woman’s in-laws had moved the high court challenging the trial court’s judgment.
Regarding the woman’s husband and her father-in-law, the high court said it has emerged from the evidence that they had demanded Rs two lakh for the purpose of business.
It asked the two men, who are out on bail, to surrender before Tihar Jail and serve their sentence.
The man and his family members had denied the allegations and claimed that there was no harassment to the woman.
According to the prosecution, the woman and the man had got married in December 1996 here and her parents had given a number of dowry articles including jewellery, car, and electronic appliances.
After two months of marriage, the woman’s in-laws started harassing and taunting her and made several demands, it had said.
In May 1998, the woman’s husband left her at her parental house and refused to take her back unless her parents give him Rs two lakh. Her parents, however, sought time to arrange the money and sent her back to her matrimonial house, it had said.
On the next day, when the woman’s brother called her, he was informed by her in-laws that she was lying unconscious and when he reached their house, the woman was taken to hospital where she died the same day.
The Supreme Court today directed that controversial RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin be shifted to Tihar Jail here from a prison in Bihar to ensure “free and fair trial” in the cases lodged against him.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy asked the Bihar government to transfer Shahabuddin to Tihar Jail within a week, saying “it is the obligation and duty of this court to ensure free and fair trial”.
The apex court said trial in the cases registered against Shahabuddin will be conducted through video conferencing from Tihar Jail.
“We direct the state of Bihar to transfer Mohammad Shahabuddin from district jail Siwan to Tihar jail Delhi,” the bench said.
The order came on the pleas by Siwan-based Chandrakeshwar Prasad, whose three sons were killed in two separate incidents, and Asha Ranjan, the wife of scribe Rajdeo Ranjan who was murdered in Siwan, seeking shifting of the RJD leader from Siwan jail.
The petitioners had told the apex court that Shahabuddin should be transferred from Siwan jail to any other jail outside the state for free and fair trial in the cases pending against him.
The Bihar government had earlier told the apex court that it is not “averse” to shifting Shahabuddin from Siwan prison to Tihar Jail here.
The state government had told the apex court that Shahabuddin is facing trial in 45 cases, including one in Jharkhand.