The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the Delhi Police to convert three petitions — filed after the alleged human rights violations in Tihar Jail on September 14 — as individual complaints and directed the SHO concerned to proceed in “accordance with the law”.
This implies that an FIR will be registered against erring jail officials, lawyers said, citing a Supreme Court judgment, which maintains that it is mandatory to register an FIR in view of any prima facie cognizable offence.
The three petitions on the jail authorities’ excesses filed by Jamal alias Ranjha, Harvinder Singh alias Bindi and one Sachin — all inmates of Tihar Jail 3 — will now be treated as individual complaints.
Advocate Mehmood Pracha, appearing for Jamal, said, “As per the jail’s inquiry report, commission of cognizable offences such as attempt to murder is made out. Therefore, an FIR should be registered as per the Supreme Court judgment in the Lalita Kumari vs State of UP case.”
On the morning of September 14, 47 inmates of jail 3 were allegedly beaten up by the Tamil Nadu state police (TSP) and the Quick Response Team (QRT). The jail authorities, however, maintained that two groups of inmates allegedly fought among themselves and “minimum force” was used to control them.
Subsequently an FIR was registered against inmates for “preventing and obstructing” prison officials and TSP personnel. The jail authorities had filed a report stating that inmates, including Jamal, were referred to the orthopaedic unit and the nature of injuries were lacerations, bruises, contusions, stapled wounds and abrasions.
During the hearing on Thursday, Pracha submitted before the court that there will never be “fair” probe into the matter. He also said that as per the injuries inflicted on the inmates on September 14, an FIR should be registered against erring officials.
The Standing Counsel for the Delhi government, Rahul Mehra, however, said Pracha was asking for a “cross-FIR” and not an FIR. “An FIR has already been registered in this case and police has also filed a chargesheet. The counsel (Pracha) is asking for a cross-FIR.”
Mehra objected to the “cross-FIR”, stating that it can be misused. However, the bench comprising Justice S Muralidhar and Justice I S Mehta said that the direction issued is not applicable in every situation.
“In every situation, an FIR will not be registered. Since an inquiry has already been conducted by the jail authorities and the report has been filed, this direction has been issued to treat the petitions as complaints,” the court said, adding that “a status report be filed on this direction by the DCP concerned on December 22”.
Rudro Chatterjee, lawyer for one of the inmates who was allegedly beaten up, said, “…The natural corollary thereof is that an FIR be registered.”
On November 1, while observing that 64 out of 83 CCTV cameras were not functioning at Jail number 3 between September 11-21, the court had directed the Home ministry secretary to form a committee within 10 days and look into this issue. However, the committee is yet to be formed.
On Thursday, the court said, “Without any wastage of time, the Home Ministry should act expeditiously.”