Updated: March 25, 2021 9:31:40 am
Days after Punjab Prisons Department ordered to shift 41 prisoners, including a number of gangsters, from various jails in the state to Bathinda jail to put them in a proposed “communication dead zone” having no mobile connectivity, three of them have approached Punjab and Haryana High Court, alleging that they had been put under solitary confinement “in violation of the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India”. They have alleged that the move was aimed at “pre-planned killing of the individuals by representing such planned encounters as inter-gang rivalry or fight between co-prisoners.”
Article 21 of the Constitution states, “Protection of Life and Personal Liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
Requesting for the court’s directions to “not to place them under solitary confinement”, the three gangsters, in the petitions moved through their counsel R Kartikeya on March 22, have also prayed for court directions allowing them to cook own food, while submitting that: “The request of the petitioner for food which includes high protein food and dry fruits is being declined by the jail authorities by sarcastically suggesting that the petitioner is not to qualify for Olympic Games and should not raise such demands.”
The petitions are scheduled to be heard on March 31.
The three, who have approached court are Ramandeep Singh aka Rammi Machana, Gurpreet Singh Sekhon and Kulpreet Singh Neeta Deol. Ramandeep is cousin of alleged mastermind of Nabha jailbreak, Ramanjit Singh aka Romi. India has been trying for extradition of Romi from Hong Kong in the case. Gurpreet and Kulpreet are among the accused facing trial in the audacious jail break carried out in 2016.
The petitions, largely similar in terms of prayers made, refer to an extract of Supreme Court judgment and submit that “the case of petitioner is squarely covered with the aforementioned settled provision of law and an under-trial like the petitioner cannot be placed under solitary confinement”.
“That at present the situation is that the petitioner is confined behind bars each day for about 22 hours and the inmates are left out in the open only for a period of two hours every day,” the petitions said, also adding that “….the entire agenda of confining all individuals who have been labelled as “gangsters” confined to a specific place which has no access to public in any manner whatsoever seems to be aimed with the agenda of pre-planned killing of the individuals by representing such planned encounters as inter-gang rivalry or fight between co-prisoners and the unnecessary restrictions and harassment met out to the petitioner and others point out to this objective.”
While referring to Punjab Jail Manual 1996 rules, the inmates have also prayed for directions to consider their request for permission to “cook food” and “purchase food from external sources”.
In his petition, Gurpreet Sekhon said he had been placed under solitary confinement “under the garb of security and social distancing to be maintained” and that “…he may be administered poison or any other food which is unfit for human consumption at the behest of rivals who are also lodged in the same jail.”
“That faced with the aforementioned ordeal, the petitioner requested that he may be granted access to newspapers, magazines, and television so that he can divert his attention from the solitary detention and be updated with the knowledge of outside world. Even these basic benefits have not been extended to the petitioner,” read Gurpreet’s petition.
Among other things, Neeta Deol’s petition read: “The petitioner is still an under trial and has not been convicted in any criminal case and cannot be victimised and punished merely because the petitioner is seeking appropriate legal recourse against the false implication of the petitioner in multiple cases at the behest of Punjab Police….Afraid of the truth which would be evident after the conclusion of trials, the Punjab Police after branding the petitioner as gangster and (sic) intends to stage a false encounter”.
Sekhon’s petition, while pointing about his acquittal in 2015 murder case of gangster Sukha Kahlwan, read “Ultimately, the truth prevailed and the petitioner was acquitted.”
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