Hot Off The PressNews

National Human Rights Commission, India Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report alleging increasing incidents of violence among inmates in Tihar Jail of Delhi.

Reportedly, in yet another incident of inmate clash inside the prison, a 25-year-old prisoner was beaten up by another on 22 September, 2021, which was the sixth incident in this month alone.

The Commission has observed that the contents of media reports, if true, raise serious issue of human rights violations of the prisoners in custody of state. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DG, Prisons, Govt. of NCT of Delhi calling for a detailed report with four weeks, including steps taken or proposed to be taken to address the issue of violence in Tihar jail.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has noted that such incidents of violence inside the jail indicate towards negligence by the prison authorities resulting into gross violation of human rights of the inmates in custody of the state.

According to the media report, carried on 24 September, 2021, the latest victim of violence in the Tihar jail told during investigation that he was first abused and beaten up by another inmate. The same day a Head Matron was injured during a scuffle with an inmate. Reportedly, about thirty inmates have been injured during September this year due to clashes in the jail.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 28-9-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

Hot Off The PressNewsOp EdsOP. ED.

              7 Years and a night of macabre of events, finally reached its climax at 5.30 a.m Tihar Jail.

Our Judicial System stood by the phrase — Justice delayed is not Justice denied.

Even hours before the execution, Advocates of the 4 convicts in the Nirbhaya Case were stalling around availing all the legal remedies that they could to stay the execution.

But the beautiful sunrise of 20-03-2020 brought an end to the horrifying night of 16-12-2012, this is the morning when Nirbhaya’s Soul would have been set free, it’s the day of freedom and justice for that one soul and hope for many others.

Execution of the 4 Convicts in the ghastly Nirbhaya Gang-Rape and Murder case went through several twists and turns especially every time the death warrant was issued but was stayed and not just once but four.

Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh were hanged till death after the exhaustion of all the legal remedies till the eleventh hour.

The question is where are we as a society on the scale of humanity?


Let’s have a look at the series of events that happened a night before the execution:

Delhi’s Patiala House Court dismissed the petition filed by the Convicts of the Nirbhaya Gang Rape and Murder Case.

The petition was filed with regard to staying of their execution scheduled for tomorrow at Tihar Jail.

The four convicts are set to be hanged tomorrow. The four convicts approached courts filing pleas seeking relief from capital punishment.

The four men have been convicted for the gang-rape and murder of a young woman who was brutally assaulted in a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012.

Supreme Court: The Court has dismissed the curative petition of Pawan Gupta, one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, who had moved the court against the dismissal of his review plea. In his petition, Pawan has claimed that he was juvenile at the time of the crime in 2012.

This comes as Gupta, along with three other convicts, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Singh Thakur, and Vinay Sharma. are scheduled to be hanged on March 20 at 5.30 am.

Three of the four death row convicts in the Delhi gangrape case, including Gupta, had also approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this month, seeking a stay on the execution of their death sentence.

The 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. Besides Mukesh, three others – Akshay, Vinay, and Pawan are facing the gallows for the heinous crime that shook the entire nation. One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here.

On July 9, 2018, the Court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the three convicts in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

On December 18, 2019, the 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ rejected the review petition of the last convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, seeking modification and leniency.

On January 21, 2020, the 3-judge bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ had dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya Gang rape case where he “reagitated” the plea of juvenility.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term. Two of the convicts are yet to file curative petitions before the Supreme Court.

Another accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail in March 2013 during the trial. Another convict, who was a minor at the time of the crime, was sent to a reform facility and released after three years of the crime.

LIVE UPDATES OF LATE NIGHT HEARING AT Delhi High Court

Justice Manmohan to AP Singh: We’re close to the time when your client will meet God. Don’t waste time. We’ll not be able to help you in the eleventh hour if you cannot raise an important point. You have only 4-5 hours. If you have a point then come to it. [ANI]

“Law favours those who take timely action. For 2 and a half years till March 4, 2020, what have you been doing? You are blaming us? It is already 10.45 pm, execution is at 5.30 am. Give us a substantive point.”

Bench tells advocate AP Singh, time is running out, there is not enough time.

Delhi HC says divorce plea of convict Akshay Kumar Singh’s wife not relevant to stay execution. [PTI]

These are death warrants. This is the fourth one. Some sanctity should be given to them: Court [ANI]

Advocate AP Singh says, justice hurried is justice buried. Court says to Singh, you have not raised a single legal point.

We find no foundation in your plea says Delhi High Court.

Delhi High Court dismisses the petition filed by the death row convicts. To be hanged tomorrow morning at 5.30 a.m.

Lawyer Shams Khawaja, appearing for convicts, begins making submissions.[ANI]

President of India at an event made public his sentiments that death row convicts in sexual assault cases do not deserve mercy. He was prejudiced against us even before the first mercy plea. [ANI]

Court: Once a Judge signs a Judgment, he cannot touch that again. You want to carry on, go on! We will sit here till 5.30 am and pass the judgment. Be our guest to take it beyond 5.30 am and then we will pass the judgment.

Court expresses displeasure over lawyers continuing arguments.

Delhi High Court says no foundation has been given in the petition. It has been filed without any index, list of dates, memo of parties, annexures or any affidavits. [ANI]

Advocate A.P. Singh representing the Convicts says: “Will go to Supreme Court when I get the order copy. I have spoken to Registrar, I will go to him.”

[BREAKING] [Midnight Hearing of the Gruesome – Nirbhaya Case] |Petition of death row convict Pawan Gupta against rejection of his mercy petition and seeking stay on execution — dismissed; Convicts to be hanged at 5.30 am today

The convicts are to be hanged at 5.30 a.m. and the legal remedies in the Nirbhaya Verdict are still being availed by the convicts.

Special Bench to sit for hearing at Supreme Court after dismissal of petition on stay of execution by Delhi HC.

Bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A.S. Bopanna, JJ. decided, that

Petition of death row convict Pawan Gupta against rejection of his mercy petition and seeking stay on execution — dismissed; Convicts to be hanged at 5.30 am today.

Live Updates

Supreme Court to hear the petition of all four death row convicts, seeking stay on execution.

Advocate A.P. Singh has challenged the order passed by the Delhi High Court.

Bench of Justice R. Banumathi to sit for the hearing.

Hearing at the Supreme Court has begun. Less than 3 hours remaining for the scheduled execution of the Nirbhaya Convicts.

Supreme Court begins hearing in the petition of death row convict Pawan Gupta against rejection of his mercy plea by the President and seeking stay on execution. [ANI]

Bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A.S. Bopanna, JJ. hearing the petition.

Advocate A.P. Singh makes his submissions before the Bench.

Advocate AP Singh appearing for convict Pawan shows to court school certificate, school register,& attendance register of Pawan claiming he was juvenile at the time of crime. Justice Bhushan says these documents were already filed by him before courts. [ANI]

Justice Bhushan asks what are the grounds on which AP Singh (advocate of convicts) is challenging the rejection of mercy petition? Justice Bhushan further says AP Singh is raising grounds that have already been argued. [ANI]

We are not inclined to entertain the plea Supreme Court observes.[ANI]

AP Singh, advocate of death row convicts says – I know they will be hanged but can it (execution) be stayed for two-three days to record (convict Pawan’s) statement. [ANI]

Justice Banumathi is dictating the Order.

Supreme Court dismisses the petition of death row convict Pawan Gupta against rejection of his mercy plea by the President and seeking stay on execution.

A. P Singh, advocate of death row convicts asks court to allow family members of convicts to meet them for the last time for 5-10 minutes. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta says jail rules don’t permit it and it is painful for both sides. [ANI]


Also Read:

Nirbhaya Gangrape Case: Story From A Different World Where Humanity Has Been Treated With Irreverence


† Legal Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Anu Malhotra, J., while deciding a petition with regard to the investigation of Sanjeev Chawla alleged for acting as a bookie in fixing the India and South Africa cricket matches from 16-02-2000 to 20-03-2000, held that,

“Investigating Agency in the said matter is permitted to conduct an interrogation of the petitioner at Tihar jail complex only in terms of timeline stipulated in terms of Section 167(2) of CrPC, 1973, for a period not exceeding 15 days from the date of arrest.”

Background of the Case

Sanjeev Chawal (Petitioner) a citizen of United Kingdom was an accused under Section 173 of CrPC for the allegation of commission of offences punishable under Section 420/120-B Penal Code, 1860 in relation to,

An alleged conspiracy to fix matches during the India-South Africa Cricket series played through February-March, 2000 in alleged connivance with Hansie Cronje, Captain of South Africa Cricket Team.

Petitioner had allegations of being the main conduit in match-fixing.

Averments in the police report under Section 172 of CrPC submitted by the Crime Branch, three accused persons were arrested, Sanjeev Chawla (Petitioner) and Manmohan Khattar allegedly absconded having left for UK and Canada, respectively.

Petitioner had further been extradited on 12-02-2020.

Through the petition filed, petitioner submitted that trial court failed to consider and take into account the three Letters of Assurances of the Ministry of Home Affairs, whereby the Government of India had given a solemn sovereign assurance that at all times and during pre-trial custody, petitioner would be lodged at the Tihar Jail Complex, Delhi and that thus, no police remand could be granted and that the petitioner had been extradited from the United Kingdom only to face trial and not for any investigation.

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, on behalf of the petitioner reiterated that the extradition had been granted only on the basis that the petitioner was being extradited to face trial and not for any investigation and thus, no investigation could be carried out nor permitted and that the pre-trial detention of the petitioner could only mean detention at the Tihar Jail and nowhere else as had been stated by the Government of India.

Further adding to the above, Clauses 9&10 of the Guidelines for Extradition issues by Ministry of External Affairs in India categorically spelt out the extradition could be granted only for the trial on the basis of the evidence made available in the charge sheet and not for the purpose of any investigation.

APP, Kewal Singh Ahuja on behalf of the Government (NCT of Delhi) submitted that during the investigation it was found that the present petitioner had played the most vital role in the commission of the crime. Statements of Hansie Cronje and Hamid Cassim before the Kings Commission allegedly clearly pointed to his deep-rooted involvement in the case.

It was submitted by ASG, through the status report that neither the Investigating Agency nor the Government of India, had given any assurances that on extradition no further investigation in the matter could be carried out and that for the purposes of a fair trial, petitioner has to be confronted with the evidence against him to unearth the whole conspiracy.

“..in terms of the law of the land Section 173(8) of the Cr.P.C., 1973 provides for continuing investigation even after the filing of the police report under Section 173(2) of the Cr.P.C., 1973”

Thus, in the above view, it is submitted that the police interrogation of the petitioner was very essential.

Union of India submitted that,

“…from the investigation conducted so far, there is sufficient evidence to prove that the accused persons namely Sanjeev Chawla, Hansie Cronje, Krishan Kumar, Rajesh Kalra, Sunil Dara @ Bittoo and Manmohan Khatter mentioned in Column No 11 of the chargesheet had entered into a criminal conspiracy to fix the cricket matches played between India and South Africa from 16.02.2000 to 20.03.2000 in India.”

Union of India relied on the Extradition Treaty and the instruments of ratification between India and U.K.

Adding to above submissions, UOI submitted that petitioner falls under the category of “fugitive criminal” in terms of Section 2(f) of the Extradition Act, 1962 and thus trial of the petitioner qua the alleged commission of offence punishable under Section 420/120 IPC has to be conducted in which would not preclude the Investigating Agency from invocation of the powers of investigation in terms of Section 173(2) of CrPC.

“… in terms of Article 11 Sub-clause 3 of the Extradition Treaty between the United Kingdom and India, it is not necessary that the extradition can be made only when a charge sheet has been filed but if the material placed is sufficient to justify committal for trial to indicate that there is prima facie material to satisfy the Requested State that the fugitive is involved in the offence/ offences, the same would suffice to grant the prayer for extradition.”

Decision

ASG Supreme Court of India Sanjay Jain on behalf of Union of India expressly stated that the terms of Letter of Assurances would be followed in letter and spirit and that petitioner would not be taken out of Tihar Jail except with permission, granted by Court in terms of Section 173(8) of CrPC.

Thus, the bench disposed of the petition with a direction to effect that impugned order of trial court is modified to the effect that the petitioner during the entire stage of pre-trial detention, trial and conviction, if any, in terms of Letters of Assurances would continue to be lodged at Tihar Jail.

Further, petitioner cannot be taken out of Tihar jail for the purpose of investigation or interrogation in police custody, through the investigating agency in the matter is permitted to conduct the same at Tihar jail only.

The period of investigation will end on 28-02-2020; whereafter no further investigation will be granted.

Court also stated that the Investigating Agency shall, however, take care to ensure that the petitioner is treated with dignity during the investigation and interrogation conducted. [Sanjeev Kumar Chawla v. State, Crl. M.C. No. 870 of 2020, decided on 20-02-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by ANI, Delhi High Court has set 06-02-2020 as the date on which Manu Sharma’s plea will be heard with respect to his release.

Manu Sharma is the convict in the Jessical Lal Murder Case who has been sentenced to life imprisonment and has been serving the same since April 1999.

In the petition, Manu Sharma has stated that he is aggrieved by the Delhi Government’s September order upholding the recommendation of the Sentence Review Board, which decides the release of prisoners sentenced for life.

Petition called out the board’s decision to be “unfair, arbitrary and impartial”.His release has been declined by the Board since last three occasions.

Jessica’s sister Sabrina Lall had written a letter to Tihar Jail stating that she had no objection with Manu Sharma’s release.


[Source: ANI]