Courts Update Delhi HC transfers probe of 29-year-old Tihar Jail inmate,...

Delhi HC transfers probe of 29-year-old Tihar Jail inmate, Ankit Gujjar’s alleged murder inside the jail premises to CBI

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New Delhi Sept 8(ILNS): Delhi High Court today transferred the probe of the 29-year-old Tihar Jail inmate, Ankit Gujjar’s alleged murder inside the jail premises, from Delhi Police to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Delhi to CBI.

A Single Bench comprised of Justice Mukta Gupta directed, “The case file will be transferred to the CBI immediately by the concerned police station. A status report will be filed by the concerned SP, CBI after carrying out investigation before this Court well before the next date of hearing,” ordered the High Court.

The Judge noted that “the walls of prison, howsoever high they may be, the foundation of a prison is laid on the Rule of Law ensuring the rights to its inmates enshrined in the Constitution of India.”

The Delhi High Court today said this while passing an order to transfers the probe into a 29-year-old Tihar Jail inmate, Ankit Gujjar’s alleged murder inside the jail premises, from Delhi Police to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The plea was moved by Ankit’s mother, sister, and brother through Advocates Mehmood Pracha and Shariq Nisar, according to which, Ankit Gujjar was lodged in Central Jail No.3, Tihar Prison Complex as an undertrial prisoner. It is alleged that Ankit was brutally beaten by the officials of Tihar Prisons on the intervening night of 3rd/4th August 2021 and despite repeated PCR calls and messages neither was any effort made to save Ankit nor complaint lodged nor FIR registered nor any evidence collected.

The petitioners further alleged that a counter-affidavit was registered on the complaint of Jail officials against Ankit. FIR on the death of Ankit Gujjar in Tihar Jail which was caused due to multiple blunt injuries was registered only on the intervention of the Metropolitan Magistrate under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C.

According to the petitioners, the deceased was long being harassed by the officials of the Tihar Jail as he was unable to meet the regularly increasing demands of money made by them. Though the FIR was registered on the complaint of the petitioners, however, the proceedings noted along with the FIR clearly showed that despite repeated complaints when the deceased was alive no effort was made to save him, to provide him medical treatment, and even after his death effort was made to support the FIR registered against the deceased.

Even in the FIR registered pursuant to the directions of the Metropolitan Magistrate under Sections 302/323/341/34 IPC for charges of causing death (Murder) has only been invoked despite ample material on record that there was a systematic destruction of evidence and extortion being carried out by the jail officials, hence the investigation should be transferred to CBI at the earliest so that valuable evidence which can be collected is not lost and the inmates of the prison who are the eye witness can depose in a fair and free manner, claimed the Petition.

The counsel for the Petitioner argued that the “police was not conducting an investigation in the proper format” as the DVR of the CCTV installed in the jail was yet to be recovered and the aspect of extortion by jail officials through online transactions was not being looked into.

When this petition came up before the High Court on August 18, 2021, the Court while issuing notice directed a status report to be filed under the signatures of the Director-General, Prisons, and under the signatures of the Joint Commissioner of Police concerned. The Director-General, Prisons was also directed to preserve all the CCTV footage which have a bearing on the incident, that is, prior to the incident, at the time of the incident, and thereafter.

Justice Mukta Gupta noted in the status report that on the night of 3rd/4th August 2021 at around 1.00 AM a call was made by jail staff to Casualty, Central Jail Hospital, Tihar as Ankit was complaining of body ache, upon which the duty doctor and nursing staff visited the ward for medical examination and gave him pain killer injection. Ankit refused any further treatment/physical examination. At 6.25 AM again a call was made to the duty doctor and on visit in the ward of Ankit, on examination, he was found lying supine, pupils were dilated and fixed, pulse was not recordable.

As per the status report filed by Director General, Prison, an internal inquiry was also initiated which has been completed by DIG, Prisons and Narender Meena, Deputy Superintendent; Deepak Dabas, Assistant Superintendent; Balraj, Assistant Superintendent and Shiva, Warder have been placed under suspension. Further, eight more jail officials have been shifted from Central Jail No.3 till further orders. Further the Superintendent, Central Jail No.3 has also been transferred to Prison Headquarter.

The court also noted that DIG Prisons in the in-house inquiry failed to notice the connivance/laxity of Deputy Superintendent Vinay Thakur who did not permit ASI Ram Avtar from Police Station Hari Nagar who had gone to inquire into the PCR call, to go inside the Jail to record Gujjar’s statement.

On perusal of the post-mortem report of the deceased Ankit, as per the version of the Deputy Superintendent, Narender Meena, and other staff that a scuffle took place in which both Narender Meena and Ankit received injuries. From injuries noted, it is evident that the deceased was brutally beaten and left unattended as the case of Jail administration itself is that at around 1.00 AM on the intervening night of 3 rd/4 the August 2021 Ankit complained of body ache upon which the duty doctor and nursing staff gave him pain killer injection and he refused any further treatment.

“Not only did Narender Meena and others assaulted the deceased mercilessly, but the Jail doctor on duty also failed to perform his duty when he examined Ankit at 1.00 AM in the night and administered the injection, as he neither informed the senior officers of the condition of Ankit nor referred him to the Hospital. It is unfathomable that when the Jail doctor on duty visited at midnight, he did not see the multiple injuries on Ankit”, said the Court.

Consequently, the Court deems it fit to transfer the investigation of the case under Sections 302/323/341/34 IPC registered at PS Hari Nagar, Delhi to CBI. “The case file will be transferred to the CBI immediately by the concerned police station. A status report will be filed by the concerned SP, CBI after carrying out investigation before this Court well before the next date of hearing”, ordered the High  Court.

Observing that in case proper medical treatment had been provided to Gujjar, the court said that his life could have been saved. “The role of jail doctors in not providing proper treatment at the right time is also required to be ascertained by a proper inquiry,” it said.

“Moreover, necessary rules and regulations so that the police are not denied entry in the jail to conduct an inquiry/investigation into the commission of a cognizable offense are also required to be made. This case also calls for immediate remedial actions by the State and Director General, Prison so that unscrupulous officers at the Jail do not take advantage of the knowledge of the non-working of the CCTVs so that they can get away by doing any illegal act/offenses. A status report will be filed by the Director-General( Prisons) indicating the measures taken to streamline the system as regards the CCTV cameras at the Jail and when the same is not working what alternative measures can be taken in the meantime, accountability of the Jail officers and Jail doctors and the mechanism by which immediate entry is provided to the police to the Jail on receipt of information of a cognizable offense and the remedial steps taken thereon”, the order reads.

The Court has fixed the matter on October 28, 2021./ILNS/SS/SNG

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