December 12, 2021 12:46:38 am
A SPECIAL court in a recent order directed the superintendent of Byculla women’s prison to allow an inmate – who has been shifted to a cancer care hospice – to write and receive letters from her family, friends and lawyers after it was brought to its notice that she was not being permitted to do so.
The court also rapped prison officials for not responding to its notice and directed the Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) to take appropriate action against the “errant officer”.
Nirmala Uppuganti, an accused in the Gadchiroli blast case, was shifted to a hospice centre as per orders of the Bombay High Court in September for palliative care.
Last month, her lawyer Chandni Chawla had filed an application before the special court stating that Uppuganti was not being allowed to write and receive letters. The plea sought directions to the superintendent of the jail, stating that while she was lodged in the jail, she was permitted to write letters as per the Maharashtra Prison Manual. The rules allow inmates to dispatch letters at short intervals to near relatives and friends, it added.
The court had then directed the prison superintendent to respond to the plea on October 12. As the court did not receive a response on two dates, the hearing was adjourned. An email sent to the superintendent by the lawyer also did not yield a response, the court noted.
“It is unfortunate to observe that whenever this court has called for the reports from the prison authorities, it is found that the same have not been responded punctually and the same causes interference in the administration of justice and the same prevents the court from proceeding further. Therefore, said fact is brought to the notice of the Director General of Police (Prisons), for taking appropriate action against the erring officer and for giving appropriate instructions to all prison superintendents…,” special Judge Dinesh E Kothalikar said in his order.
On Uppuganti’s plea, the court said that she is entitled to write and receive letters as per the rules on Facilities of Prisoners in the prison manual. “No reasons are forthcoming as to why the applicant was prevented from availing said facility,” the court said, adding that she should be allowed as per the rules.
Uppuganti was arrested in 2019 for her alleged involvement in the blast at Gadchiroli, which killed 15 security personnel and a civilian. Her husband, Sathyanarayana Rani, also booked in the case, is lodged at Arthur Road jail. The two, along with others, were arrested for allegedly being members of the banned CPI (Maoist).
In September, the HC had said that a prisoner does not cease to be a human being and cannot be deprived of the right to life, while directing Uppuganti to be shifted to a hospice, as she is terminally ill.
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