The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, directed the creation of a High Level Committee to suggest measures for enhancing security of jail complexes.
The Bench comprising Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice I.S. Mehta directed the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to constitute the Committee within 10 days. The Committee would comprise of a retired District Judge who has served in Delhi as Chairperson, a senior official of the National Informatics Centre and a senior official of the Delhi Police.
The Court directed this Committee to examine the functioning of CCTV cameras in the Tihar Jail Complex, as well as the Rohini and Mandoli jails. The Committee was further directed to formulate a protocol for disaster management and recovery in the event of a crisis. The suggested measures, it said, should have been tested by pilot runs or mock drills.
Highlighting the need for quality security at prisons, the Court directed, "Emphasis would be placed in having a state-of-the-art top quality security for the Tihar Jail complex comparable with the best international practices followed in high security prisons...
... The HLC 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 went on to rule out the possibility of there being any budgetary constraints for exercise of the task, directing, "The members of the HLC will be provided without delay appropriate work place, secretarial assistance, and shall be paid honorarium commensurate with the experience and competence. Ideally, one senior official of the MHA should be appointed as a point person of the HLC to interact with other Departments of the GNCTD, MHA and Tihar Jail administration."
The Committee has been directed to submit a report within two months. The matter has now been listed on 30 November.
The Court's directions were issued on a Petition filed by 47 prisoners who have alleged violation of their humans rights by jail authorities.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the Court took note of an inquiry report submitted by the Superintendent, Tihar Jail, who informed the Court that only 19 out of 83 CCTV cameras were functional for a period of 10 days. He had further submitted that at any given point of time, at least 10% of these CCTV cameras are not functional.
The Court took serious note of the situation and observed, "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%. It is undoubtedly a high security zone. It should be needless to emphasize that the proper functioning of CCTV cameras in Tihar jail complex, on a continuous basis, is an non-compromisable imperative.
The Court is unable to appreciate, 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 then emphasized on the need for an independent examination of the ground situation and directed that the Committee must not have any representatives of the State, since Tihar Jail comes under the jurisdiction of the State Home Department.