AgustaWestland case: Court asks DG Prison to take measures on Christian Michel’s jail stay

Anand Mohan J
Michel Christian at CBI after arrest in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

A Delhi court on Tuesday directed the DG Prison to take immediate remedial measures regarding AgustaWestland accused Christian Michel's lodgings in prison, stating that he had been "kept in total isolation and the same is not less than a solitary confinement".

Special Judge Arvind Kumar directed the DG Prison to file a compliance report within three days, and also asked him to provide Michel with "all facilities such a library, books, magazines, canteen, sports etc as per the jail manual and as is being provided to any other/under-trial prisoner", the order read.

The judge also perused the CCTV footage of the accused provided by the jail authorities and noted that "not even a single co-prisoner is allowed in the said block and not a single person is at a visible range".

The court also said that even though the security of the accused was of paramount consideration, he could not be kept in isolation or solitary confinement in the name of security.

"It is undisputed fact that solitary confinement can cause an array of mental disorder as well as provoke an already existing mental disorder in a prison causing more trauma. No doubts solitary confinement is permitted under certain circumstances, but there has not been a single complaint against the accused regarding his conduct," the order read.

The order also mentions the statement of Shivananand, the Deputy Jail Superintendent, who told the court that sports facilities were not provided at the block.

After his extradition to India, Michel was sent to judicial custody on December 19 last year and kept in a barrack. He filed an application saying that he was kept in a general cell where more than 40 prisoners were accommodated and put forward uncomfortable questions, following which the jail authorities shifted Michel to cell number 2 of ward 7.

He later filed another application requesting that he be shifted to a high-security cell. As per court records, Michel was shifted to ward 6, which is a high-risk ward, and the jail authorities denied that he was lodged with Kashmiri or Pakistani inmates.