Killing of inmate: Jail authorities draw court’s ire

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Terming as serious matter the killing of an undertrial by other inmates, a Delhi court has suggested that the possibility of a “cover-up” by the Rohini Jail authorities to save senior officers cannot be ruled out and said it required an independent probe.

The court pulled up the jail authorities for failing to prevent the April 25 murderous assault on Rajvinder, who was also a witness in a criminal case against his attackers, on the prison premises and not informing it about the incident until the case came up for hearing 10 days later.

The court sought a detailed report from the jail authorities regarding the circumstances under which witness Rajvinder was housed in the same jail and barrack accessible to the accused persons and why the aspect of his death was concealed and withheld from it.

Noting that the jail authorities had suspended junior officers, the court said it could have been an attempt to save those who were actually guilty of culpable negligence.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau slammed the jail authorities for their failure in keeping a check over inmates who had managed to sneak into a different ward and had killed an undertrial, who was a witness in the case against them.

The court said it was a serious matter that undertrials were having a free access to any place in the jail complex without any inhibitions and added that it required an independent probe.

“…It is a serious matter that the undertrials can have a free access to any place in the complex without any inhibitions in the manner in which it has happened. How is it that undertrial prisoners housed in a different ward could have easily managed to sneak into a different ward duly armed with a ‘kattan’ (a dangerous weapon) without any inhibition, obstruction or anybody stopping them?

“This in fact is a serious matter requiring an independent probe/inquiry. This I say because the manner in which an action has been hurriedly initiated against comparatively junior officers of the rank of Head Warden and Warden by suspending them, is something which gives me a lurking feeling that perhaps something is amiss.

“And therefore, the possibility of this being a cover-up to save the officers of the jail administration actually guilty of culpable negligence cannot be ruled out,” the judge said.

The court’s observation came in a case in which it had received an information on April 26 from the Rohini Jail Superintendent that on April 25, accused Manpreet Singh along with two other inmates assaulted their fellow prisoner Rajvinder, who was lodged in a different ward and was a witness in the criminal case against them.

The authorities informed the court that Rajvinder was attacked on his neck and other body parts with the weapon causing grievous injuries and was taken to hospital.

The judge, however, was not informed by the authorities about Rajvinder’s death and it was only on May 5 when the case came up for hearing, the advocates appearing in the matter disclosed this to the court.

Accused Manpreet was lodged in ward number 2 while Rajvinder was housed in ward number 6.