Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked Tihar jail authorities to substantiate its claims that activist and Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia president Shifa ur Rehman, had himself refused to attend video conferencing with his lawyer. The authorities have also stated that opportunities were provided to Rehman and the lawyer as well.
“In this country, you cannot simply pick somebody and put him in jail and tell him that you cannot meet even your lawyer,” observed Justice Vibhu Bakhru.
Delhi High Court bench was hearing a petition filed by one of the accused arrested in anti-CAA protests, Rehman regarding the extended time period granted to the Special Cell of Delhi Police for probe into the case registered against him and others under UAPA.
The petition moved by Advocate Amit Bhalla, appearing for Rehman raised the issue that despite the lower court’s order in July, the jail authorities denied access to Rehman’s lawyers. Bhalla contended that the hearings provided before courts to him are no hearings in absence of a lawyer.
The court pulled up the jail authorities and said that you have frustrated every attempt for the person to meet his lawyer. The court has also asked the authorities to bring in all the documents or material to substantiate their claims in a status report.
The status report submitted by Tihar jail authorities stated that Rehman was provided the opportunities to talk on the phone to his family and lawyer 16 times between the month of May and August. They also said that they have arranged the video conferencing between Rehman and his lawyer on July 21 and August 5. Jail authorities claimed that Rehman was not feeling well on July 21 and therefore refused to attend the call, and on August 5, there were connectivity issues.
Advocate Amit Bhalla argued that despite repeated email requests to the authorities, no measures have been taken. He also submitted that he was not aware of any video conferencing calls on July 21 and August 5 and it is the lawyer who initiates video conferencing links and informs the jail authorities one day in advance. He also stated that on September 11, he had joined the video conferencing link sent as per prior intimation but no one from jail joined the call.