Why video conference facility not for foreign inmates?: HC asks prison authority

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday sought the presence of an officer from the prison authority before it in connection with issues faced by inmates and questioned as to why foreign national inmates were not allowed video conference facility to speak to their families.

'Why video conferencing for families abroad is not done? You were permitting phone calls. You have to upgrade,' said Justice Rekha Palli, who was hearing a petition for prison reforms by two JNU students and Delhi riots accused, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita.

Advocate Gautam Narayan, appearing for Director General, Prisons, said that further assistance on this aspect and reasons behind the policy could be best explained by the officer concerned.

'It cannot be a bald statement. Let a competent officer be asked to remain present,' he said.

Taking note of the submission, the court said on the next date September 10, an officer conversant with the facts of the case be present on behalf of the respondent. Advocate Adit S Pujari, appearing for Narwal and Kalita, submitted that while several grievances raised in the matter have been addressed by the authorities, certain issues still needed to be looked into.

'They have done a lot of thing. What remain,' the court questioned as it noted that both of them have been released on bail.

Foreign inmates are still not allowed video conferencing, physical mulaqaat (meeting) and permanent solution to dietary issues etc, Pujari said. The court granted him time to file his short response on the surviving issues.

Narwal and Kalita were arrested last year in May in connection with the communal riots in north east Delhi.

On June 15, the high court granted bail to them in the Delhi riots case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The petition was moved by them during their judicial custody to allow them and other inmates to have a choice of physical or virtual mulaqaats or meetings to communicate with family and friends as is provided under the Prison Rules of 2018.

Delhi Police appeal against the bail order is presently pending before the Supreme Court.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24, 2020 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 700 injured. PTI ADS RKS RKS

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