A Delhi court on Thursday directed Tihar jail authorities to place on record the CCTV camera footage of the prison cell, where former JNU student Sharjeel Imam is lodged in connection with the 2020 north-east Delhi riots, after Imam alleged that he was assaulted and harassed on June 30 by eight to nine inmates, who, along with the assistant superintendent, had entered his cell on the pretext of carrying out an illegal search.
In his plea, Imam said he was assaulted and his books and belongings thrown out. He said the entire incident was captured by CCTV cameras and sought directions to the jail authorities to preserve the videos recordings of his cell from 7.15pm to 8pm on June 30.
Additional session judge Amitabh Rawat on Thursday directed the jail superintendent concerned and the duty register of jail sevadar to be present before the court during the next hearing on July 20.
“Let the concerned jail superintendent be also present on the next date of hearing for assisting the court in disposing of the present application. Let the register of the inmates/sewadars, who participated in the said surprise search, as stated, may also be produced in the court on the next date. Let the CCTV footage of all the said three cameras for 30.06.2022 for the period 6.00 PM to 8.00 PM be also produced on the next date i.e. 20.07.2022,” the court stated.
Imam in his plea, filed through advocate Ahmad Ibrahim, also alleged that he was called a “terrorist” and “anti-national” when he tried to prevent them from throwing out his stuff. The plea sought directions to the jail authorities to take all steps to protect Imam from any further assault and harassment.
In their reply, the prison authorities said while a search was conducted of Imam’s cell (ward No. 7 (Block-D) of jail No. 1) under the supervision of deputy superintendent Deepak Rana, assistant superintendent Manjeet Nagar, on-duty warder Ravi Tomar and some sewadars, no search operation involving convicts ever took place.
They further stated that there is no prohibition in the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, to “utilising the services of convicts/undertrial prisoners” in assisting the jail staff in such searches.
The jail authorities also said Imam had threatened them with a false case, saying that if “you mess with me, I will take your jobs”. The reply said authorities had also punished Imam for breaching the rules, when he made them aware about the complaint filed in the court.
“The CCTV footage from the camera installed in the cell of the accused has already been preserved…It is pertinent to mention before the court that during the hearing of punishment, the accused stated that he moved a false complaint before the court in order to keep his name highlighted in the media report and the reports will help him in securing bail,” the reply claimed.
“It is specifically denied that the applicant was cornered and a search was carried out not any contraband recovered or that the convicts were suggesting placing some contraband in order to put him in trouble,” the reply said.
The jail superintendent also denied that during the search, Imam’s belongings were thrown and he was assaulted and called “terrorist” and anti-national”.