Beatings, blade cuttings, and similar instances of torture and atrocities meted out to the vulnerable inmates in Delhi prisons

Multiple Action Research Group vs. Govt. of NCT Delhi and Ors., W.P.(C) 4425/2012, WP ( C) 4588/ 2014 | High Court of Delhi | |

The Writ Petition was filed in the High Court of Delhi to highlight the issue of beatings, blade cuttings, and similar instances of torture and atrocities meted out to the vulnerable inmates within the prisons in Delhi. The petition also brought to light the corrupt practices and the existing nexus between some influential prison inmates and the prison officials, which resulted in undue favors including smuggling of drugs and various items inside the prison complex with the knowledge of some corrupt prison officials.

The petitioners prayed for a strong grievance redressal mechanism to be put in place within the Tihar jail, with appointment of human rights officers in each of the jails. To highlight the instances of torture and abuse the petitioners had filed complaints by the inmates who had been subjected to severe beatings inside the prison.

The High Court of Delhi ordered an inquiry into all those complaints by the District & Sessions Judges. A report of the same was submitted. The complaints were corroborated by the jail visiting judges.

Further, the petitioners also sought for appointment of a Board of Visitors, which is a requirement under the Delhi Prison Rules, 1988 but was not put in place. The court ordered the establishment of the Board of Visitors. As a result, the Govt. of NCT Delhi notified the Board of visitors vide notification dated 18.3.14. However, the notifications were against the Delhi Prison Rules and the guidelines in existence, as well as the Supreme Court directions, as per which the official and non-official visitors were to be independent in their functioning and having a certain background, as well as interest in prison matters.

As per the notification, a total of 18 official visitors were appointed out of which 11 were prison officials- which included 9 Superintendents and the DIG as well as the DG, Prisons. The 7 non-official visitors appointed were also not independent officials.

The notification was challenged in a separate petition, WP ( C) 4588/ 2014.

As a follow up the counsels for the Petitioners had various meetings with the prison officials as well as the counsel for the Delhi Government to ensure that the new notification appoints both official and non-official visitors who are independent in their functioning, and that the same is in consonance with the directions of the Supreme Court in Sanjay Suri vs. Delhi Administration, Delhi and Anr., 1988 (Supp) SCC 160 which has laid down very clear guidelines, “The Visitors’ Board should consist of cross-sections of society, people with good background, social activists, people connected with the news media, lady social workers, jurists, retired public officers from the judiciary as also the executive. The Sessions Judge should be given an acknowledged position as a visitor and his visits should not be routine ones. Full care should be taken by him to have a real picture of the defects in the administration qua the resident prisoners and undertrials.”

As a result, the Delhi Government is now in the process of issuing a fresh notification on appointment of Board of Visitors.