The Delhi High Court has set aside the punishment imposed on two jail inmates for allegedly using mobile phones which were stated to be recovered from an air duct following a surprise search in the wards.

Justice Jasmeet Singh set aside the punishment stopping the petitioner inmates' from using the calling system and mulakat (meeting) for one month subject to the approval of the court concerned on the ground that it was issued in violation of the jail rules.

In the present case, four mobile phones and two sim cards were stated to be recovered based on the statement of an inmate who also revealed the names of the petitioners.

Advocate Akshay Bhandari appeared for the Petitioner while Advocate Sachin Mittal appeared for the State.

The Court observed that petitioners were punished twice for the same offence by the same authority and reliance on oral disclosure statements in the absence of witnesses also finds no place in the Delhi Prison Rules.

"The whole idea of Rule 1272 and 1273 stems from the fact that the rights of the inmates need to be protected and any statement implicating them should be recorded in the presence of witnesses. Oral disclosure statement and oral confessional statements in the absence of witnesses finds no place in the Delhi Prison Rules", said the Court in its recent order.

The punishment awarded to the petitioners is also violative of Rule 1275 as the petitioners have been punished twice over for the same offence by the same authority. The petitioners have been punished with (i) stoppage of the inmate calling system and (ii) stoppage of Mulakat for one month. Rule 1275 reads: 'No prisoner should be punished twice for the same offence by the same authority, it added.

The Court further said that stoppage of mulakat was a major punishment and the procedure prescribed under the jail rules, which mandated a written notice, should have been followed.

The showing of punishment ticket is not akin to giving a show-cause notice. The show-cause notice requires that the prisoner/inmate should be put to notice and he must be informed in writing that he is required to respond to the charges levelled against him as well as the basis for those charges and the punishment which can be given to him in case his response is found unsatisfactory. The punishment ticket produced hereinabove has already found the petitioners guilty of the violation of Prison Jail Rules, the Court held.

For all the above-said reasons, I am of the view that the petition needs to be allowed and the punishment ticket dated 02.01.2020 needs to be set aside, the Court ordered.

Cause Title: Vipin Sharma v. State

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs