A Delhi Court has directed prison authorities to restart calling facilities, thrice a week for activists Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and five co-accused behind bars in an Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case connected to the Northeast Delhi riots.
The five co-accused are:
Additional sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, on Monday, 30 January, said in his order:
"The present applications are disposed off with the directions to the concerned Jail Superintendents to provide the said accused/applicants with the said inmate telephone call facility for 05 minutes for conversing with their family members thrice a week.
Restart? On 2 January, the accused had told the court that the calling facility to speak with their families had been 'abruptly stopped' by Tihar jail authorites.
On the other hand, jail authorities had argued that according to Rule 631 of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, and another notification, certain categories of prisoners were not eligible for calling in the interest of public safety and order.
What Did the Court say? The court took note of the rule and agreed that prisoners or undertrial prisoners who are involved in offences against State, terrorist activities, etc., are not eligible for inmate telephone call facility in the interest of public safety and order.
In fact, it also noted that technically the applicants, accused under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, “are not eligible for the facility in terms of Rule 631.”
BUT, the court went on to say, that this facility, even if wrongly provided by Tihar jail authorities, was being given to the accused, prior to this abrupt move.
“The Tihar jail administration concerned must set its house in order and follow the rules and, at the same time, maintain consistency without any discrimination against any individual accused," the court said.