Process of security upgradation in Prison underway: Delhi Government informs Supreme Court

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The Delhi Government has recently informed Supreme Court that the process of installation of mobile signal jammers and X-ray body scanners are in progress at Tihar Prison. 

The court was hearing an application for upgradation of security in Tihar Prison over alleged collusion between Chandra brothers, the jailed Unitech promoters, and Tihar jail officials. 

A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah has asked the Government to institutionalize the arrangements that have been made.

The bench was hearing an application for upgradation of security filed by Bhupinder Singh in furtherance of the alleged collusion between the Chandra brothers, the jailed Unitech promoters, and Tihar jail officials.

Senior Advocate Gautam Narayan appearing for the Delhi Government submitted that a new system of police tickets has been introduced to ensure and strengthen the security in jail. 

Narayan further informed that a Standard Operating Procedure will be issued to the Ministry of Telecom by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to ensure that no mobile signal towers are installed in the nearby area.

The Government is also considering to separate the jail inmates on the basis of first time offenders and others, Narayan further informed.

The bench has directed the Delhi Government to file its status report.

Earlier, The bench had taken serious note of the Delhi Government's non-appearance in a case concerning the administration of Tihar Prison in the capital.

The Ministry of Home Affairs filed an affidavit of compliance relying on the contents of the model prison manual. The MHA also agreed to accept any further recommendations by the commissioner of police. The court however was not satisfied with the affidavit and noted that “Prima facie it appears that adequate steps are yet to be taken”

At this juncture, Madhavi Divan, appearing for MHA submitted that the prisons are a state subject and hence instructions have been issued to Delhi government to execute the same. KM Natraj, ASG, appearing for the Delhi police submitted that though the DG of prisons is from Delhi police, they are on deputation to Delhi government and the centre does not have a role to play in the jail administration.

Justice Chandrachud on hearing this called for the counsel for NCT of Delhi to appear and clarify this. However since none appeared for NCT of Delhi, he remarked,

“What on earth is happening here?” 

The court, in order to avoid any such occurrences in the future, sought recommendations from the Commissioner of Police and the same were submitted to the court in October 2021. The Government was then asked to comply with the recommendations.

A bench of Justices Chandrachud and MR Shah asked the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Delhi Government to stop “passing the buck,” on who is responsible for the administration of Tihar Jail and implement the reforms at the earliest.

Cause title: Bhupinder Singh Vs Unitech Ltd