In a case of unlawful detention of a prisoner for 10 days despite being granted bail in both cheque bounce cases against him, the Delhi High Court on Thursday opined that officers posted in the jails, particularly, those of the rank of the Superintendents, Deputy Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents must be apprised of their duties and obligations in law so that such an incident is not repeated in the future.
Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad had last month directed the Director General (Prisons), Delhi to conduct an inquiry as to how many occasions were the prisoners not released within 24 hours of being granted bail by a competent court, for reasons not attributable to that prisoner.
On Thursday, the D.G. (Prisons) tendered an unconditional apology for the inappropriate explanation submitted by the Superintendent, Central Jail-I, for unlawfully detaining the petitioner in prison, including, inter alia, that the petitioner could not be released for want of release orders.
The division bench was informed that to prevent any such mistake as has happened in the present matter, the Prison (Headquarters) has constituted a Committee to randomly inspect the jail records concerning detention of prisoners in jail and their release. Further, a Circular has been issued informing all concerned that no person must be detained without any valid and justified reason and that the erring official will be held responsible for such a lapse.
The Status Report submitted by the DG advanced that at least 1.5 lacs prisoners have been released during the past three years and the direction of this court to compile the data in respect of all of them, would be a stupendous exercise and need a lot of time.
"D.G. (Prisons), who is present in the hearing, has assured this court that after a lot of introspection, it has been decided that course correction is warranted within the Department", noted the bench. The bench also recorded his submission that 14 Law Officers are being appointed on a contractual basis very soon and they will be available to each of the jails for advice and guidance, wherever required.
However, taking note of the explanation sought to be offered by the Superintendent, Central Jail-I, for unlawfully detaining the petitioner in prison beyond 20.06.2020, the bench was of the opinion that officers posted in the jails, particularly, those of the rank of the Superintendents, Deputy Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents must be apprised of their duties and obligations in law so that such an incident is not repeated in the future.
Accordingly, Member (Secretary), Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) is directed to arrange online workshops, tailor-made for the said purpose. The Superintendents, Deputy Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents, Jail and all the 14 Law Officers who have been appointed by the Prison (Headquarters) shall attend the said workshops on dates that may be fixed in consultation with the D.G. (Prisons).
In the said workshop, the relevant provisions of law and the case law shall be discussed with the attendees and they shall be apprised of the various nuances of law relating to the prisoners and their rights and the duty of the jail authorities qua them. It is further directed that Member (Secretary), DSLSA shall organize similar workshops in conjunction with D.G. (Prisons) on a regular interval and at least once a year.
Click here to download the Order