Punjab & Haryana High Court Demands Action on Inmate Phone Use in Prisons

Punjab & Haryana High Court demands detailed action against jail phone usage. Justices express dissatisfaction with submitted affidavits, pressing for specifics on recovered phones and actions taken. Haryana praised for better performance. Next hearing set for April 30.

The Punjab & Haryana High Court has asked the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and UT Chandigarh to provide detailed information on actions taken against prisoners found with mobile phones in jails.

During a hearing presided over by a division bench of Justice Anupinder Singh Grewal and Justice Kirti Singh, the court took suo moto cognizance of the issue of mobile phone usage in prisons.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the affidavits submitted by the Punjab Government, Justice Grewal remarked, "We will not accept this. Enough time has been given to you. Tell us what action has been taken. Give us details: from whom have these mobile phones been recovered? Are they gangsters?"

The court-appointed Amicus Curiae, Advocate Tanu Bedi, informed the court that the Punjab Government had only provided the number of mobile phones recovered from jails without specifying the actions taken against the inmates.

Bedi also pointed out that, according to the submitted affidavit, only nine mobile phones had been recovered from Haryana jails, while in Punjab, mobiles had been seized in almost every jail.

Justice Grewal commented, "They (Haryana) are doing better, and Punjab should learn from them."

The court scheduled the next hearing for April 30, instructing both states and UT Chandigarh to file detailed affidavits and provide an advance copy to the amicus curiae three days before the hearing to enable her to respond to the issues raised.

Earlier, the court had expressed concern about inmates, whether undertrials or convicts, making extortion or threatening calls from within the jail premises.

"It would indeed be a matter of grave concern if the inmates, whether undertrials or convicts, are making extortion or threatening calls from within the precincts of the jail," remarked the court.

"It would not be difficult for the authorities to sanitize the areas which house the high-security inmates or those involved in heinous crimes, including extortion. Such prisoners are stated to have been put up in separate high-security zones. It is the need of the hour that the high-security zones should be immediately sanitized to ensure that there are no extortion/threatening calls by the inmates," the court added.