Possession Of Mobile Phones By Inmates Not Only Breaches Prisoner Discipline But Is Also A Serious Security Threat: Calcutta HC
The Calcutta High Court has directed the Director General and Inspector General of Police and the Principal Secretary (Correctional Services) to ensure that no mobile phone or any electronic device is in the possession of the inmates in correctional homes.
The bench of Justice Ajay Kumar Gupta and Justice Joymalya Bagchi observed that possession of electronic devices like mobile phones by inmates not only breaches prisoner discipline but is also a serious threat to security.
The Court also directed the officers to look into the feasibility of setting up jammers inside the Correctional Homes so that the inmates are unable to use mobile phone or other devices inside the correctional home.
Advocate Arnab Chatterjee appeared for the petitioner whereas Saswata Gopal Mukherji appeared for State.
The Court was dealing with the bail plea of an accused who while being in custody, entered into conspiracy with co-accused through mobile phone.
In view of this, enquiry was directed to be made into the matter by the Inspector General of Police (Correctional Services), West Bengal. The Court noted that instead of conducting an enquiry personally, the Inspector General delegated the exercise to Deputy Inspector General (Correctional Home) Berhampore, West Bengal.
The Court further noted that a mobile phone was recovered from the petitioner and that search was conducted in 26 wards and 50 cells of the Correctional Home but no electronic device was detected.
The Court observed that “Call Detail Records (CDRs) show much prior to the aforesaid searches, petitioner had made phone calls from the Correctional Home. This establishes the fact that he was in possession of the mobile phone at the time when the searches were held.”
The Court remarked that searches appeared to be done in a very casual manner.
“We record our displeasure with regard to the casual approach taken by the Inspector General of Police (Correctional Services), West Bengal in the lax supervision of Correctional Homes particularly in the matter of search and recovery of prohibited items from the inmates.”, the Court observed.
The Court directed the authorities to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the officers of the Police and Correctional Home Department who conducted/supervised the aforesaid searches.
The Court observed “We take judicial notice that mobile phones and electronic devices permitting access to inmates to the outside from the Correctional Home is endemic. Many undertrials regularly use mobile phones with impunity to keep contact with miscreants and commit offences from jail. This grave aberration in prison security must be immediately addressed and remedied.”
"Director General and Inspector General of Police and the Principal Secretary (Correctional Services) are directed to ensure thorough searches in all the correctional homes in the State of West Bengal and ensure that no mobile phone or any electronic device through which access may be made to the outside from the Correctional Homes are in the possession of the inmates. If any gadget is found, the same shall immediately be seized.", the Court ordered.
The Court refused bail to the petitioner-accused considering that he was regularly conversing through mobile phone with co-accused who were dealing in narcotics.
Cause Title- Sukur Mondal @ Sukur Ali Mondal v. State