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Friday, July 23, 2021

Delhi HC to Tihar authorities: ‘You are our agents… If you beat a prisoner, that means we beat him up’

The court said that it was “precisely the problem” that jail administration does not believe that it was doing anything wrong by beating up people. It further said that a prison complex is the backroom of the courts and judges.

Written by Sofi Ahsan , New Delhi | New Delhi |
Updated: June 25, 2021 4:00:13 pm
mundra custodial deathsThe vacation bench was hearing a petition filed by a prisoner, alleging violence and victimisation at hands of jail authorities inside the prison, for transfer from Tihar Jail. (Representational Image)

The Delhi High Court on Friday told the Tihar Jail authorities that people were resisting extradition to India because of the incidents of violence inside the jails here. It observed that the prison officials beating the inmates was akin to judges beating them.

“I am at pains to explain to the Prisons Department that it is because of these actions that people are avoiding extradition into our country. They go and say ‘look this is what happens in Indian prisons. People get beaten up. Don’t send me there’,” observed the vacation bench of Justices Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Jasmeet Singh, while hearing an inmate’s petition alleging harassment inside the Tihar Jail.

When Delhi’s Standing Counsel Sanjay Lao responded that worse was happening in the US prisons, the court asked, “So therefore what? Are we in a race with any other country?”

Lao submitted, “Are we not supposed to save the lives of other prisoners? The only question is whether a force has been used in excess or not”.

The court said that it was “precisely the problem” that jail administration does not believe that it was doing anything wrong by beating up people. It further said that a prison complex is the backroom of the courts and judges.

“If you were to take a man into my chambers and beat him up, will I stand up for it? This man is in our custody, under the custody of the court. You are our agents. If you beat him up, that means we beat him up,” observed the court.

It further said that it cannot subscribe to a view that jail officials can beat up the inmates. “You have to be more vigilant. You have to see these incidents don’t occur. How can you tell us that you are beating up prisoners and we should be party to it,” asked the bench.

Lao submitted that defence counsels were projecting their clients as saints and jail officials as criminals.

The vacation bench was hearing a petition filed by a prisoner, alleging violence and victimisation at hands of jail authorities inside the prison, for transfer from Tihar Jail. The jail authorities in response to the petition have argued that the prisoner wants to be transferred to a prison where his friends and associates have been housed, on the “false pretext of victimisation”. The inmate is currently inside a special security ward of Tihar Jail.

Directing the DG Prisons to dispose of the prisoner’s complaint dated May 20 within five working days, the court also directed him to take a decision on the possibility of shifting him from Tihar Jail complex to any other jail in Delhi. It listed the case for next hearing on July 5.

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