Jail authorities are “custodians” of undertrials on behalf of the judiciary and are supposed to give them proper medical care, treatment and food, a Delhi court has observed while rapping Tihar Jail officials for not complying with earlier directions.
The court, which was dealing with applications filed by some inmates who sought necessary treatment and food in the prison, said that Tihar authorities appeared to be “totally negligent towards treatment and condition of the undertrial prisoners”.
The observations by Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey came in the wake of allegations of assault on 18 inmates, including four Kashmiris, at Tihar on the night of November 21.
The Delhi High Court Saturday directed a three-member fact-finding committee to submit its report in two weeks, detailing the events and circumstances of the alleged assault. The issue came to fore after the Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference released to media pictures of the bruised inmates and alleged that they had been beaten up by a special unit of the Tamil Nadu police inside the jail. The Delhi High Court has termed the reported assault on the inmates as “very disturbing” and “extremely serious in nature.”
The issue of maltreatment was also highlighted when a British court had recently refused to extradite alleged bookie Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, a key accused in the cricket match-fixing scandal involving former South African captain Hansie Cronje in 2000, citing lack of medical provision, risk of being subjected to torture and violence either from other inmates or prison staff in Tihar Jail.
In its order, the trial court also noted that a number of directions passed by it in a separate case earlier were not complied with by the jail authorities.
It directed the jail superintendent concerned to appear in person before it along with a status report and also explain as to why action should not be initiated against him for defying its earlier order.
“Jail authorities are reminded that they being public servants, are only caretaker/custodian of the undertrial prisoners on behalf of judiciary.
“They are supposed to give proper medical care, treatment and food to the inmates. It is seen that despite directions, orders of the court for proper upkeep and providing medical facilities to the inmates are not been complied with,” the trial court said.
It noted that the undertrials generally complain about not being provided with proper medical treatment and food in the jail.
“The court has many times brought the facts of negligence in discharge of official duties to the notice of worthy DG (Prisons) but no noticeable improvement is seen,” it said.