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Why Prison Inmates Not Allowed VC Facility To Meet Relatives Outside India? Delhi High Court Asks GNCTD

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
16 July 2021 8:06 AM GMT
Why Prison Inmates Not Allowed VC Facility To Meet Relatives Outside India? Delhi High Court Asks GNCTD
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The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the prison authorities to explain why it does not permit any person outside India to meet prison inmates via Video Conferencing. Justice Rekha Palli passed the order on a petition filed by student activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, who were recently released on bail by a division bench of the High Court in Delhi Riots conspiracy case....

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the prison authorities to explain why it does not permit any person outside India to meet prison inmates via Video Conferencing.

Justice Rekha Palli passed the order on a petition filed by student activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, who were recently released on bail by a division bench of the High Court in Delhi Riots conspiracy case. Both of them were present before the Court via VC.

The plea seeks directions for provision of facilities for under-trial prisoners and convicts.

"You have to upgrade. Decision to allow phone call facility for inmates was taken long ago. Why have you not introduced VC?" the Judge had asked Gautam Narayan, Additional Standing Counsel for Delhi Government.

Narayan informed the Bench that the prison authorities have deliberately denied video conference calls outside India due to security concerns.

"You cannot give a bald statement. Show us how VC affects security. I understand your concern but give us a clear stand," the Judge told Narayan following which he suggested that an officer from the prison department may explain the technicalities to the Court on the next date.

Advocate Adit S Pujari, representing Narwal and Kalita, conceded that many improvements have been done by the concerned authorities. However, he sought time to file a rejoinder indicating larger issues that need Court's intervention.

"We are espousing larger issues like VC facility for foreign inmates, resumption of physical meetings since second wave of Covid-19 has subsided, etc. More permanent solution is needed to dietary issues. I also want to highlight the ways in which prisoners are sought to be punished in jail," he said.

(During her time at the Tihar Jail, Narwal had alleged that lockdown was imposed in Jail No. 6 after large scale violence broke out in the jail premises.)

The Court has thus granted time for filing of rejoinder. Meanwhile, the Respondents have been asked to indicate issues as to why VC facility cannot be extended to calls outside India.

The matter is posted for September 10.

The Petitioners were under-trial prisoners in Tihar Jail, Delhi, in connection to the Delhi Riots conspiracy case. They were released on bail by a division bench of the High Court vide order dated June 15. They had been in custody since May 2020.

On previous dates, the Court had sought status report on the progress made so far pursuant to which it was observed that some steps have indeed been taken by the Superintendent, Central Jail No. 6, Tihar to redress the grievances of the petitioners and improve the condition of the jail.


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