CBI to probe killing of Tihar inmate, allegedly by jail staff
New Delhi: After noting that several parts of the investigation related to the case of alleged custodial death of an undertrial inside Tihar Jail were "incomplete" and that "an in depth investigation" is required to be conducted to find out the circumstances under which the deceased made a phone call a day before his death to his sister, apprehending his death by prison staff, the Delhi High Court has transferred a case from the Delhi Police to the CBI.
The plea in the case was moved by the mother of the deceased, identified as Shrikant, who was arrested on June 13, 2019, following which he was in judicial custody. However, on May 14, Shrikant died after he succumbed to his injuries in a hospital. The plea stated that going by the photos and videos of the deceased's body, deep cut wounds on his thighs and hands were found which could not be caused due to simple cricket bats, as alleged by the jail authorities and that such wounds could only be caused by a sharp object. The petition urged the preservation of CCTV footage of the prison and sought transfer of probe in the case to CBI.
Significantly, the deceased had called up his sister where he alleged that he will be murdered by the jail officers. A PCR call was also received from the jail which was not from the jail officers which alleged that the caller's brother had been killed by Deputy Superintendent R.N Meena and that the latter had also assaulted her the previous day and has now murdered her brother.
As per the police's status report in the case, on the day of incident, the warders on duty heard hue and cry from Barrack No. 4 following which they found that the deceased had a scuffle with four other inmates where all of them were left injured. Thereafter, other inmates and the deceased were taken to the jail dispensary. A blood-soaked bat and a bedsheet with blood stains was recovered from the spot, police said.
Thereafter an FIR was filed on the complaint of the warder and investigation was taken up. Probe revealed that the deceased used to bully and harass other inmates and also used to extort money from them and due to this several inmates had also requested change of barracks. Following this, some of them hatched a plan to kill him. Prison authorities stated that they don't have footage of the incident.
In her order, Justice Mukta Gupta stated that no post-mortem of the deceased has been placed on record before court. Also, on July 8, the court had directed the Director General(Prisons) to file a detailed report indicating as to where and how many CCTVs were installed in and around Barrack No.4 of Ward No.2. An affidavit was also to be filed on the site plan of CCTV camera locations and as to why wasn't CCTV footage preserved right after the incident.
DG Sandeep Goel in his response had stated that that most of the old CCTVs installed in Tihar Jail have become non-functional and a mega plan of their installation is underway but some other them have been delayed due to Covid-19.