The government has defended the use of force by prison authorities to control inmates in an incident at the Arthur Road jail last year.
“It was for the jail authorities on the spot to decide when, how and where to act and it was not expected of them to wait till the situation deteriorated,” said an affidavit filed by Principal Secretary, Home, Anna Dani in the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.
An inquiry report by the Principal Judge of the City Civil and Sessions Court had in November found Arthur Road police personnel prima facie guilty of assaulting undertrials in the June incident.
The inquiry had been ordered after the son of Mohammed Shaikh, one of the July 11, 2006, serial train blasts accused, filed a petition alleging the beating of his father.
Shaikh’s son Saeed alleged several prisoners were beaten with batons and stones while they were being shifted and his father fractured his leg in the process.
He claimed his father was also denied medical attention.
Dani’s affidavit stated it was the primary duty of the jail superintendent to maintain discipline and enforce it strictly. “It is not correct to say that the jail authorities exceeded their authority while discharging their legitimate duty while transferring prisoners,” said the affidavit.
It added that it was the duty of prisoners to obey the orders of the prison officers, keep to orderly behaviour and not commit any act of nuisance.
In a related development, an undertrial out on bail approached the high court stating he wanted to depose as an independent witness in the case.
Undertrial Gautma Desai said he was lodged in Arthur Road at the time of the incident.
The division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice AR Joshi hearing the case asked Desai to file a formal application.