Delhi HC Expressed Surprise Towards submissions Of Tihar Jail Authorities

New Delhi: Delhi High court Friday expressed surprise and said it found it “strange” and “bizarre” the submissions of the Tihar jail authorities that the cell in which former JNU student Umar Khalid was kept was located at such a place from where more than half of the ward’s movement was visible.

Khalid has been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case related to “premeditated” conspiracy in the north east Delhi riots in February.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat directed the Jail Superintendent to ensure that the accused was allowed to step out of his jail as per the rules and to ensure that the court did not receive any such complaints in future.

Khalid had on Thursday told the court that he was kept alone in his cell, not allowed to step outside at all and not allowed to meet anyone. He alleged that he was being kept in sort of solitary confinement under the garb of security. The Tihar Jail Superintendent told the court on Friday that he has been provided all the facilities as other inmates.

The Jail Superintendent, in his reply, stated “The cell where the inmate (Khalid) is kept is located at such a place from where more than half of the ward movement is visible.” To this, the judge told the jail authority, “I am amazed at this. What is the purpose of this submission? It is a bizarre thing to say. This is strange.” Khalid’s counsel said, “Is he ( Khalid) an animal in the zoo that he is locked in a cage where he can see people and the people can look at him, but he can’t move out..”

The Superintendent said that it was not meant in such a way and rather it meant that he was kept in such a place from where he could see people’s movements so that he doesn’t get bored.

The report said that the allegations levelled by him were baseless and not true and provided details of the activities carried out by him. The details of the activities included the date of his being admitted to Jail after medical examination, when he called his family members through inmate calling system, legal interview with his counsel, medical treatment and canteen facilities used by him.

It further stated that all the concerns mentioned by the accused before the court have been properly addressed and he has been provided books, clothes, headphones during legal interviews, and allowed to carry out his daily routine activities ensuring proper safety and security and norms relating to COVID-19.

Referring to the order of Additional Superintendent Pradeep Sharma of Jail number 2, in which it was stated that the accused should not be allowed to step out of his jail for 24 hours, the jail authority said, “This was an order meant for internal circulation only, to ensure safety and security of Khalid.” When the judge asked Khalid whether he was being allowed to go outside, he said, “After I brought the issue to the notice of the court, things have got better. I am allowed to step outside. The Jail Superintendent came to meet me and himself took me around. Before, it was left to the discretion of the particular staff whether I should be allowed to go out or not. After negotiating for hours I would be allowed for half an hour.

Khalid further said, “Things got worse for the past few days and I put my grievances before the court after seeing the order of Additional Jail Superintendent Pradeep Sharma in which it was stated that I should not be allowed to go out for 24 hours.” To this the judge told the Jail Superintendent, “You need to take stalk of the situation and personally see these things… I should not receive complaints of such a nature in future.”

The jail authority added that they have around 50-60 inmates on a daily basis, whose credentials they don’t know and hence Khalid’s security aspect also needs to be seen.

The judge directed Khalid to be cooperative because his safety was also important. The court had on October 17 directed the Tihar Jail Superintendent to provide adequate security to him in judicial custody.

The directions came on an application filed by the accused seeking adequate security in prison so that he was not harmed by anyone in judicial custody. Meanwhile, the court extended till November 20 the judicial custody of Khalid and JNU student Sharjeel Imam in the case.

During the hearing, Khalid and Imam’s counsel opposed the remand application saying the police had not made out any new grounds for extension of the judicial custody.

“They have just copy pasted from the previous remand applications, so much so that even the typographical errors were also there. Khalid had voluntarily cooperated in questioning and made himself available 11 hours before arrest,” advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Khalid, said.

Advocate Surbhi Dhar, appearing for Imam, said he has been arrested for an offence which he had allegedly committed while he was in custody in another case and had nothing to do with the UAPA case.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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