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Judiciary

SC rejects plea against capping number of visits by prisoners’ friends, families, counsel

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      10 January, 2024 10:31 AM      0 Comments
SC rejects plea against capping number of visits by prisoners friends families counsel

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to consider a plea against the Delhi High Court's order stating that the decision to cap the number of visits by prisoners’ families, friends, and legal advisers to twice a week in jail in the national capital has been taken considering the number of inmates.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal said it was not inclined to interfere with the high court order as it was a policy decision.

The plea filed by advocate Jai A Dehadrai and others contended that the high court failed to appreciate that the arbitrary capping of the incarcerated undertrials’ right to confer with their legal representative flies in the face of doctrine of progressive realisation of rights.

Arguing for himself, he said the High Court failed to appreciate that Rule 585 of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 flies directly in the face of doctrine of non-retrogression which states that there should be no scope of regression of rights in a progressive society.

“As per the National Crime Records Bureau Report dated 24.12.2021 - the undertrial prison population in Delhi is 14,506 inmates out of the total population of 15,976; as per India Justice Report, 2022 - 9 out of 10 prisoners in Delhi are undertrials; Prison Profile of Tihar Central Jail, New Delhi indicates that the underprivileged prisoners account for 78.9% of Delhi’s population (where the monthly income does not exceed an amount of Rs 8,000),” the plea said.

It also contended the profile further reports that 66 % of the inmate population have education qualification below Xth standard - thus indicating another subset of vulnerable groups within an already vulnerable class of persons. Therefore, restrictions on undertrial rights to interact with their legal representatives is not only arbitrary, rather, it is also patently discriminatory.

In February, 2023, the high court had said the decision had been taken after careful consideration of the facilities available in prisons, availability of staff, and the number of undertrials.

The high court, declining to pass any order issuing writ of mandamus, had stressed that in matters of policy, the courts do not substitute its own conclusion with the one arrived at by the government merely because another view is possible.

Challenging validity of the provisions of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, Dehadrai sought amendment of the rules to allow interviews with legal advisers to be open from Monday to Friday for an appropriate allotted time with no cap on interviews per week. 



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