28 Nov 2023 10:48 AM GMT
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has summoned Punjab's Additional Director General of Prisons (ADGP) to explain why the Committee constituted in March, 2023 to probe details of Lawrence Bishnoi media interview from jail had not yet filed the report.The direction came after the court earlier took suo moto cognizance against use of mobile phones in the Punjab prison and remarked,"It is a...
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has summoned Punjab's Additional Director General of Prisons (ADGP) to explain why the Committee constituted in March, 2023 to probe details of Lawrence Bishnoi media interview from jail had not yet filed the report.
The direction came after the court earlier took suo moto cognizance against use of mobile phones in the Punjab prison and remarked,
"It is a matter of grave concern that a suspect in police or judicial custody has been allowed to conduct an interview at length. The officers who permitted or facilitated the interview, need to be identified and taken to task at the earliest".
During the last hearing, the Bench had expressed a dissatisfaction that 7 months had elapsed "but not much headway has been made" by the Committee to probe Bishnoi's media interview conducted by mobile phone. Accordingly, it was directed that the ADGP file an affidavit explaining "why it has taken so long for the Committee to submit its report."
In the present proceedings, Addl. AG Ishma Randhawa representing Punjab government informed that probing into the matter was a tedious process since a lot of officials are involved and Bishnoi was taken to several jails during the time period.
Amicus Curiae Advocate Tanu Bedi averred that "we are in 2023, we have entered the era of Artificial intelligence and chatgpt... if the state is yet not able to establish the time and place of the interview in 8 months then it shows that prisons are not safe and state is not well equipped..."
She added that the issue of smuggling phones into jails has long been faced by foreign countries, and they have devised various solutions, such as allocating mobile phones to inmates with certain restrictions, including specific timings and call recordings.
While noting that the report had not been filed despite adequate time being given, the Division Bench of Justice Anupinder Singh Grewal and Justice Kirti Singh said, "We direct ADGP, prison to be present in the Court to explain why the report have not been submitted till date, he would also appraise the steps taken to stop mobiles in prison and calls for extortion..."
The court considered a plea filed by a military contractor alleging that extortion call was made to him by Bishnoi, who threatened him of dire consequences. In this regard, State counsel stated that Bishnoi was lodged in High Security Jail at the time.
Pertinently, an impleadment application was moved by Advocate Akash Manocha, who had earlier filed a PIL for probe into Bishnoi's interview, stating that he had approached the Committee with his grievance, but no heed was paid. The court issued notice in the application.
Appearance: Ishma Randhawa, Add. AG. Punjab.
Anant Kataria, DAG Haryana.
Manish Bansal, Public Prosecutor, UT, Chandigarh and Rajiv Vij, Addl. PP, UT, Chandigarh.
Tanu Bedi, Advocate (amicus curiae) assisted by Sumit Kumar, Advocate.
Gourave Bhayyia Gilhotra, Advocate for the applicant in CM-85-CWPIL-2023.
Case Title: Court on its own motion v. State of Punjab and Others
Click here to read/download the order