The court on September 8 had ordered the CBI to take over the case, saying that it was a very serious offence which requires an in-depth investigation to unearth the alleged extortion taking place in the prison.
The Delhi High Court Monday directed the DG Prisons to ensure that eyewitnesses in the Ankit Gujjar death case are kept in an area where the CCTV camera is fully functional so that the ingress and egress to the cell is properly monitored. The five witnesses are inmates at different prisons of Delhi.
The 29-year-old gangster was found dead inside Tihar last month, with his family alleging he was murdered by jail officials for refusing to pay them protection money. Four prison officials – Deputy Superintendent Narender Meena, Assistant Superintendents Deepak Dabas and Balraj, and Warder Shiva – were suspended after the incident.
The court on September 8 had ordered the CBI to take over the case, saying that it was a very serious offence which requires an in-depth investigation to unearth the alleged extortion taking place in the prison. The CBI has now registered an FIR in the case after the court order.
Justice Mukta Gupta also directed the DG Prisons to file a status report indicating the measures being taken to ensure the safety and security of the three witnesses, who are inside the prison. The court also asked about steps which would be taken regarding security of two other witnesses, who are currently out on interim bail.
The court passed the order after hearing a petition filed by the five witnesses through advocate Mehmood Pracha. Two of the witnesses were in the same cell where Gujjar was kept before he was allegedly murdered. While a third inmate allegedly saw jail officials beating Gujjar, two others also are witnesses in the case.
The witnesses, in the petition, alleged that they were being threatened with dire consequences to prevent them from deposing correctly.
The DG (Prisons) in a report earlier had told the court that Gujjar was facing trial in 13 cases.
On August 3, the DG said Gujjar and two other inmates engaged in a scuffle with Deputy Superintendent Narender Meena after a mobile phone, a cable and one hand-made knife was “recovered” from his cell and they were told to shift to another ward. The CCTV cameras in the area were shut on the day of the incident due to a technical problem, the court was told in the report.
However, Delhi Police in its report had told the court that an eyewitness said Meena had turned off CCTV cameras and called more staff “with 50-60 danda” to beat the inmates including Gujjar. Gujjar’s family had alleged that police were portraying it as a simple case of spur-of-the-moment custodial violence to save the accused.
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