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The Delhi High Court today issued notice in a petition challenging a Delhi Prison Authority's order suspending legal interview/legal consultation of the inmates with the advocates of their choice on account of COVID-19.
Notice to the Delhi Government was issued by a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan in a petition preferred by Advocate Ajit P Singh.
On June 8, Advocate Ajit P Singh (Petitioner) went to Tihar Jail to meet with his client for the purpose of drafting a regular bail application.
He was, however, informed that on March 25, the Delhi Government, through its Addl. Inspector General Prison, Delhi Prison, had suspended legal interview of the inmates with the advocates of their choice on account of COVID-19.
Legal advice/consultation/services was thus compulsorily being provided through Delhi Legal Services Authority only.
It is the Petitioner's case that the order was in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Petitioner has contended that the order denied the right of legal consultation with advocates of one's choice and thus denied the right of fair opportunity to approach appropriate Courts for a legal remedy.
".. the Respondent has compelled the Delhi Jail inmates to take legal consultation only through Jail visiting Advocates of Delhi Legal Services Authority. Hence, the Respondent has violated the fundamental rights of the Delhi Jail inmates under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution of India.", the Petition reads.
The Petitioner has also pointed out that there are no provisions in the Epidemic Act or Disaster Management Act which empowered the Delhi Government/Prison Authority to take such a step.
The Petition was filed through Advocate Lav Kumar Agrawal.
The matter would be heard next on June 29.