The Delhi High Court has sought response of Tihar Jail on a plea by a woman member of Pinjra Tod group, who was arrested in a case related to the communal violence in North East Delhi, seeking daily access to her lawyer through video conferencing and to carry books and reading material in prison.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, issued notice to the Tihar Jail and Delhi government on the plea by JNU student Devangana Kalitha and listed the matter for July 1.
In the meantime, the court also asked the concerned authorities to treat the plea as the petitioner's representation seeking video conferencing facilities with her counsel.
Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra and lawyer Chaitanya Gosain accepted the notice on behalf of the State and sought time to take instructions.
While the order was passed on Friday, it was made available on Saturday.
The court had on June 18 sought response of the Tihar Jail on a similar plea by another woman member of the group, JNU student Natasha Narwal, seeking daily access to her lawyer through video conferencing and carrying books and reading material in prison to complete her M.Phil.
In her plea, Kalitha has also sought permission to communicate with her family regularly as per the provisions of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018.
It is pertinent to mention that legal interviews of inmates with their lawyers were suspended in Delhi prisons in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pinjra Tod (Break the Cage) was founded in 2015 with an aim to make hostels and paying guest accommodations less restrictive for women students.
In 2015, Jamia Millia Islamia University had issued a notice restricting female students from staying out after 8 pm. When the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) questioned the Jamia administration on it, a group of women students decided to protest against the restrictions not only in Jamia but other universities in Delhi.
Later named as Pinjra Tod, the group mobilised people around several issues faced by female residents of hostels and PGs.
Narwal and Kalitha, who are currently lodged in Tihar jail under judicial custody, were arrested by the Delhi Police on May 23 in connection with a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in North East Delhi's Jafrabad area in February.
On May 24, they were granted bail by the trial court in the case, but moments later the Delhi Police crime branch had moved an application seeking to interrogate them and formally arrest them in a separate case.
They were also arrested in a third case related to their alleged roles in the north-east Delhi violence matter.
The case in which Narwal and Kalitha were arrested on May 23 was registered for the alleged offences of rioting, obstructing public servant and disobedience of order, abetment of an offence, wrongful restraint and assaulting or using criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty under the Indian Penal Code.
The case in which they were arrested on May 24 was registered for the alleged offences of rioting, unlawful assembly, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, voluntarily causing hurt, murder, attempt to murder and criminal criminal conspiracy under the IPC, relevant sections of the Arms Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.