Give prisoners the choice to appear in person or via video conference, says Delhi HC

Delhi HC, Pinjra Tod activist arrest, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita,Delhi news, Indian express news

THE DELHI High Court Tuesday asked Delhi’s Director General Prisons to consider giving the prisoners the choice between being produced before the courts physically or through video conferencing. The prisoners are put in quarantine by jail authorities if they are produced physically before the courts, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Justice Prathiba M Singh said the direction will be subject to any other specific direction passed by the trial courts or any administrative direction issued by the High Court regarding it. “If they are going to be put in five days of quarantine, many people may not like that. You can give choice to the prisoners. Some prisoners may want to meet the family, their lawyers and therefore prefer physical production,” observed the court.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita alleging they would be prejudiced in case they are produced before the courts physically and then put in quarantine by the jail authorities for 14 days. Narwal and Kalita are accused in four FIRs connected to the Northeast Delhi riots. On February 1, the court ordered that they can choose to be produced through video conferencing.

Advocate Anuj Aggarwal, representing the DG (Prisons), on Tuesday told the court that the quarantine period on February 19 was reduced to five days. He sought time to file a written reply and place the order on record. Advocate Adit Pujari, representing the petitioners, argued that reduction in quarantine period would not make any difference to them as they are to be produced in courts in different cases. Following the submission, the court ordered that the interim order will continue. “The petitioners shall continue to be produced before the respective courts through video conferencing as directed on February 1, 2020,” said the court, while listing the case for next hearing in April.

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