Efforts to be made to give 2 legal interviews of 30 minutes to Pinjra Tod member, Tihar tells HC



Tihar Jail authorities told the Delhi High Court Tuesday efforts will be made to provide a Pinjra Tod group woman member, arrested in a case related to the communal violence in north-east Delhi earlier this year, legal interviews with her lawyer for 30 minutes, twice a week, via video conferencing.




The prison authorities also said they have no objection to Pinjra Tod (Break the Cage) group member Natasha Narwal sourcing books from outside, provided the material does not infract any provision of the jail rules.




The submissions were made by Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, representing Tihar Jail authorities, in response to Narwal’s plea that she be provided books and reading material to complete her M.Phil as also 30-minute legal interviews twice a week with her lawyer via video conferencing.




Mehra assured the court that subject to adjustments which maybe required, efforts would be made for two video conferencing facilities of 30 minutes each for Narwal.




As per the jail manual, an undertrial is allowed 10 minutes of legal interview with his/ her counsel twice a week.




Noting the submissions of Tihar’s counsel and that the grievances of the accused have been resolved, Justice C Hari Shankar said: “This litigation has ended on a happy note. The petition is disposed of."




The court also placed on record its appreciation for proactive approach of Mehra which well deserves the status of senior standing counsel (criminal).




The counsel submitted that he has engaged in a detailed interaction with the DG (Prisons) and concerned jail officials and has made efforts to ensure that the grievance is mitigated.




Narwal, lodged in Tihar jail along with another JNU student and member of the group, Devangana Kalitha, was arrested by Delhi Police on May 23 in connection with a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in north-east Delhi''s Jafrabad area in February.




On May 24, they were granted bail by the trial court in the case, but moments later Delhi Police crime branch had moved an application seeking to interrogate them and formally arrest them in a separate case.




Narwal was also arrested in a third case related to her role in north-east Delhi violence matter.




Advocate Adit S Pujari, appearing for Narwal, submitted that at the time of video conferencing, jail officials are also present besides the woman due to which she is unable to communicate with him properly.




He said as per jail manual, the jail officials can be within the sight but out of hearing.




To this, Mehra along with advocate Chaitanya Gosain, said Narwal will be provided headphones and jail officials will be present in the room but will remain at a visual distance.




On Monday, the jail authorities submitted a status report in the court saying that several foreign inmates had turned violent in Tihar Jail on June 16, injuring 25 people, including 10 staff who tried to control them.




The authorities filed a status report in response to Narwal’s allegations that there was a "large scale violence" inside Tihar Jail on June 16 and inmates were prohibited from getting in touch with anyone, including via video conferencing, outside the prison.




Legal interviews of inmates with their lawyers in person were suspended in Delhi prisons in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.




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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