High Court of Delhi Provides E-Mulaqats, Legal Aid, Tele-Calling and Vaccination Facilities to Inmates of Tihar Jail

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Case: Natasha Narwal & Anr Vs. State of NCT of Delhi & Anr, W.P.(C)2087/2021

Facts of the Case

The present application was filed by the Petitioner seeking reliefs in respect of the Petitioners and other similarly placed inmates in Central Jail No. 6 i.e. Women’s Jail in Tihar. The first issue raised was in respect of telephonic calling facilities for prisoners who are being quarantined. The second issue raised was concerning the vaccination of the inmates in the prison to prevent an outbreak as the jail is overcrowded. The application also prays for the resumption of the E-Mulaqat facility for the inmates to interact with their family members. Further, it was also prayed that the monthly calling charges imposed upon the prisoners should be waived off due to the prevalent situation. Apart from these some other issues were also raised by the Petitioners like providing of Computer Center and Legal Aid. 

Arguments presented before the Court

The learned counsel appearing for the Petitioners submitted that inmates do not have any tele-calling facilities and they are only able to use the telephone once a week. It is not sufficient because the relatives of these prisoners would be concerned about their medical condition. In response to this learned counsel appearing on behalf of GNCTD submits that a separate mobile number has now been obtained to enable such prisoners to be able to make telephone calls. Also, a specifically dedicated staff has been nominated to visit the COVID-19 ward to facilitate the same and enable the said prisoners to speak with their family. It was also presented before the court that till now only 12 prisoners who are over the age of 45 years have been vaccinated. Further, it was also stated that physical mulaqats of inmates with their family members have been entirely suspended currently. However, the learned counsel appearing for respondents assured that E-Mulaqats are being resumed from 3rd May 2021. 

Court’s Judgement

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The Court ordered to obtain instructions as to what is the frequency of visits made by the said dedicated staff, also the frequency of telephone calls that have been permitted to be made by inmates who are currently quarantined. The Court also observed that there are greater chances of spreading the COVID-19 infection within the enclosed premises of the prison. Thus, instructions should be taken as to the vaccination policy which is being proposed for vaccinating the inmates in the Central Jail-6, Tihar. Regarding the E-Mulaqats the court ordered the learned counsel for the Petitioners to update the court on the next date. Insofar as the Computer Center is concerned, once the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides the Computer Center would be opened and re-operationalized in a phased manner. Regarding the issue concerning Legal aid, the Court stated that the legal aid room is available and the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) could visit the said jail and utilize these computers between 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM five days a week.

Click here to read the Judgement.


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