A Delhi judge warned Tihar Jail authorities Tuesday that he would conduct a physical inspection after several accused in a North-East Delhi riots case complained that they were being denied warm clothes, access to medicines amid a Covid outbreak in the jail, and letters from their families.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat directed Tihar Jail authorities to improve conditions or he would go for an inspection. He issued the warning after several of the 15 persons, accused in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act case related to the riots, complained when they were produced before him via video-conference.
“There has to be an end to this. For these small things, the accused cannot run from pillar to post, it makes no sense… I am directing the Director General of Tihar Jail to take stock and depute somebody who can take a call, and if things don’t improve, I will go for a physical inspection. All the lawyers can also accompany us,” ASJ Rawat said.
The court directed that an officer not below the rank of Additional Director General of Prisons to appear before it on November 23 to address issues raised by the accused.
Lawyers for the accused told the court that the jail superintendent was not ready to allow warm clothing and other amenities like bedsheets without a court order. They urged the court that a general order be passed for all accused persons.
ASJ Rawat said these amenities were “permissible under the rules”.
Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad told the court, “In the past hearing, the jail superintendent said that anything that needs to be brought into the jail cannot be physically delivered… you can send it by parcel… Only because of Covid, they are not allowing that.”
Former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, one of the accused, told the court, “There are a total of eight people who are quarantined here, out of which five are hospitalised. They have been taken to GTB Hospital. This is psychologically terrorizing for me… Kindly grant me interim bail as the whole jail is quarantined, and nobody is allowed to even step out of the barrack. Even basic clothing is not allowed.”
Accused Athar Khan told the court, “The same thing is also happening in Jail No. 4. Eight people are quarantined. Out of the eight, two are in DDU Hospital.”
ASJ Rawat said, “So many people have Covid? They (jail authorities) have said there is nothing like that.”
Sowjhanya Shankaran, lawyer for Jamia Millia Islamia University student Asif Iqbal Tanha, told the court that the jail superintendent was not letting Tanha even see his bail rejection order.
ASJ Rawat said, “How do you discuss your case with your clients?”. At this, Shankaran said, “I have to share screenshots with him. I have only 30 minutes with him and this is an 18,000-page chargesheet. I have been able to share about 30 pages in 30 days now.”
Tanha told the ASJ, “The discrimination is so much… Jail authorities also told me: ‘You study also? We thought you only make bombs’. I have not been able to talk to my parents in over a month. They say a terrorist will not be allowed a phone call with parents. When I raise this issue, they say this is not the place for activism.”
ASJ Rawat said, “This is too much. This is not done. How is it that everybody is making a complaint?”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines