Custodial Violence in Tihar Jail | Remedial action to be taken so that unscrupulous officers at Jail do not take advantage of knowledge of non-working of CCTVs & get away by doing any illegal act

Delhi High Court: While addressing a matter of custodial violence in Tihar Jail, Mukta Gupta, J., stated that:

Walls of prison, howsoever high they may be, the foundation of a prison is laid on the Rule of Law ensuring the rights to its inmates enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Present matter was filed by the mother, sister and brother of Ankit Gujjar who lost his life to custodial violence in Tihar Jail.

Background

Ankit Gujjar, an under-trial prisoner was beaten brutally by the officials of Tihar Jail and despite repeated PCR calls and messages neither was any effort made to save Ankit nor complaint lodged nor FIR registered, nor any evidence collected. Rather a counter-affidavit was registered on the complaint of Jail Officials against Ankit.

Petitioners submitted that the deceased was long being harassed by the officials of Tihar Jail as he was unable to meet the regularly increasing demands of money made by them.

Grievance of the petitioners was that despite the fact that from the first PCR call itself the petitioners family was stating that Ankit was beaten because he failed to comply with the demands of money of the Deputy Superintendent Narender Meena and in this relation they have also provided the numbers to which the amounts were transferred, however, the entire investigation as was evident from the proceedings noted in the FIR as also the status report filed was aimed to show that since there was recovery of a mobile phone, charger and knife from the cell of the deceased, he was being transferred and when he refused to be transferred a scuffle took place, ignoring the genesis of the occurrence that there was demand of money from Narender Meena which was not fulfilled due to which Ankit was mercilessly beaten.

Serious Offence

High Court stated that in case the allegations of the petitioners are correct, it is a very serious offence that requires in-depth investigation to unearth the manner in which alleged extortion was carried out in the prison.

Bench directed for that the investigation of case under Sections 302/323/341/34 IPC be transferred to CBI. Further, a status reports to be filed by the SP concerned.

Proper Inquiry on whether medical treatment was provided to Ankit or not

An investigation not only as to who all committed the offence of brutally beating the deceased Ankit resulting in his death has to be carried out, but the role of jail doctors in not providing proper treatment at the right time is also required to be ascertained by a proper inquiry.

“…necessary rules and regulations so that the police is not denied entry in the jail to conduct an enquiry/investigation into the commission of a cognizable offence are also required to be made.”

 Further, the Court added that the present matter calls for immediate remedial actions by the State and Director General, Prison so that unscrupulous officers at the Jail do not take advantage of the knowledge of the non-working of the CCTVs so that they can get away by doing any illegal act/offences.

“A status report will be filed by the Director General( Prisons) indicating the measures taken to streamline the system as regards the CCTV cameras at the Jail and when the same are not working what alternative measures can be taken in the meantime, accountability of the Jail officers and Jail doctors and the mechanism by which immediate entry is provided to the police to the Jail on receipt of an information of a cognizable offence and the remedial steps taken.”

Petition to be listed on 28-10-2021. [Geeta v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4297, decided on 8-09-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioners: Mehmood Pracha, Advocate with Shariq Nisar, Sanawar Choudhary, Yashovardhan Ojha and Jatin Bhatt, Advocates.

For the respondents: R.S. Kundu, Additional Standing Counsel for State/Respondent 1 and with Inspector Jeet Ram, P.S. Hari Nagar.

Anil Soni, CGSC for Union of India/Respondent 3.

Rajesh Kumar, Special P.P. for CBI/Respondent 4

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