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The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a petitions by Pinjra Tod Members Devangana Kalita and Natsha Narwal seeking a direction to the Tihar Jail authorities to allow them access to their counsel by way of video conferencing. (Natsha Narwal vs Superintendent, Central Jail 6 Tihar, NCT of Delhi & Anr)
Notice to Tihar Jail and Delhi Government in Narwal's petition was issued by a Single Judge Bench of Justice C Hari Shankar.
Similarly, notice in Kalita's Petition was issued by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru.
While listing Kalita's petition for further hearing on July 1, Justice Bakhru directed the Jail authorities, in the meantime, to treat her petition as a representation seeking video conferencing facilities with her counsel.
Narwal and Kalita are presently in judicial custody in connection with cases registered for Delhi riots.
Their grievance arises out of a March 2020 order passed by the Jail Authorities, discontinuing visits and mulakat of prison inmates with their friends, family, as well as counsel on account of COVID-19.
It is their case that in order to have effective legal assistance, especially in view of the fact that charge sheet stands filed in one of the cases against them, it was imperative for them to communicate with her counsel.
In her petition before the Court, Narwal has pointed out that as per Rule 629 of the Delhi Prison Rules, the Jail Superintendent has the power to allow inmates to communicate with family, friends, and lawyers through telephones or other electronic modes of communication.
It is also stated that in terms of the Chapter titled ‘Women Prisoners’, Narwal was entitled to a number of relaxations qua amenities, as well as mulakat/interview.
Invoking the Constitutional right to legal representation under Article 21, Narwal has contended that every inmate has the right to communicate with her family and friends, and interview/mulaqat in privacy with her Counsel.
The Court has directed the Delhi Government to file its counter-affidavit to Narwal's petition on or before June 23, 2020. Narwal's petition would be heard next on June 24.
Kalita and Narwal were represented by Advocates Adit S Pujari, Kunal Negi, Tusharika Mattoo.
The Petitions was drafted by Advocate Chaitanya Sundariyal.
State was represented by Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra.