29 March 2022 4:15 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has sought assistance of the Director General of Prisons in recommending changes in the manner in which functioning of prisons here would be made more conducive for maintaining discipline amongst inmates and obviating incidents of violence inside jails. A division bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup J. Bhambhani requested Director General...
The Delhi High Court has sought assistance of the Director General of Prisons in recommending changes in the manner in which functioning of prisons here would be made more conducive for maintaining discipline amongst inmates and obviating incidents of violence inside jails.
A division bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup J. Bhambhani requested Director General (Prisons) to remain present on May 20, the next date of hearing to assist the Bench in a petition raising the issues of violence perpetrated on the inmates by jail authorities.
The Special Bench has been considering the issue as to what amounts to 'excessive force' for disciplining errant prisoners lodged in jails. The petition filed by a prison inmate namely Sameer alleged that he was beaten by Jail officials inside Tihar jail and sought his transfer to some other prison complex, alleging victimization at the hands of such officials. The incident is alleged to have happened on October 28, 2020.
During the recent course of hearing on Friday last week, the Director General of Prisons Mr. Sandeep Goel was present before the Court and handed over a note on the issue of use of appropriate force to control unruly inmates.
The DGP also invited attention of the Bench to varied issues which were the bone of contention between the prison authorities and jail inmates leading to unsavory incidents and violence.
He told the Court that there were issues of violence noticed during interaction of jail authorities with inmates in respect to lodgement change of hardcore criminals or when confronted with recoveries of prohibited items in jail like tobacco, weapons, mobile phones and sometimes even drugs.
He also added that inmates are in a position to move around within their ward from 6 AM to 12 PM in the morning and 3 PM to sunset, during the day.
Adding that there is no quarrel noticed over quality of food, the DGP said that when the inmates are confronted with recoveries of prohibited items, they react and sometimes indulge in violent acts with jail authorities.
At the outset, the Court quizzed the DGP over installation of jammers inside jail so that the mobile phone menace comes to an end. To this, the DGP said that the authorities are working on a new technology to deal with the said issue and that three new towers had been installed in October last year. While he said that the installation of new towers was quite effective in blocking phones, it wasn't effective entirely.
On the aspect of recoveries of prohibited items inside jail, the DGP told the bench that such items are usually being thrown from outside in a cricket ball like structure which are later seized when the jail authorities find them. He added that in a survey conducted last month, various landing spots had been identified wherein nets will be put in place so as to deal with the issue of such recoveries.
On the specific query of violence, the DGP told the bench that while usually such violence happens amongst the jail inmates themselves, the same happens with the jail authorities when the staff is trying to either discipline inmates to follow the Jail Rules or when there is direct confrontation with the inmates.
"The suggestions you have given, if we together, the jail authorities and we, apply our minds to this and you are able to upgrade your systems for an equipment for disciplining prisoners, then this violence shouldn't arise," the bench orally remarked at the outset.
While the Bench also asked the DGP if the authorities have examined the systems used in other countries, the DGP said that there has been no conclusive opinion given in the survey here which is effective in controlling incidents of violence.
At the outset, the Court issued notice on an impleadment application filed by Advocate Amit Sahni and asked the DGP to submit response within within two weeks.
The Court also asked Sahni to assist the bench on the aspect of international best practices and systems put in place overseas to deal with the issue.
"The purpose is we want to empower Mr. Goyal but in a civil way. If you're willing to help us then please research on international best practices," Justice Bhambhani orally remarked.
Accordingly, the Court posted the matter for further hearing on May 20 while requesting the DGP to remain present on the next date of hearing as well.
During the previous course of hearings, the Bench has expressed its shock over the matter and has sought response of the authorities on the action taken against responsible officers as well as other issues raised in the plea.
Case Title: SAMEER THROUGH HIS PAROKAR FAIZAN ANWAR v. THE STATE OF NCT OF DELHI & ORS.