Prisons department created a dead zone at Bathinda central jail for solitary confinement of gangsters to rein in their activities. (Getty Images/Vetta)
Prisons department created a dead zone at Bathinda central jail for solitary confinement of gangsters to rein in their activities. (Getty Images/Vetta)

Gangsters’ solitary confinement: Prisons department to challenge HC’s ‘illegal’ move order

Punjab prisons department’s lodged 42 gangsters in solitary confinement after receiving suggestions from the Special Task Force (STF) to check their illegal activities; a single judge bench had termed it ‘illegal’
By Ravinder Vasudeva, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON SEP 14, 2021 01:48 AM IST

The Punjab prisons department has decided to challenge high court’s single-judge bench order that termed the confinement of notorious gangsters in newly created ‘dead zone’ at Bathinda Central Jail as illegal.

A decision in this regard was taken in a meeting of department officials after holding discussion with the advocate general’s office last week.

The prisons department’s move to lodge 42 gangsters, who were drawn from different jails, in the ‘dead zones’ had come after receiving suggestions from the Special Task Force (STF) to check their illegal activities. ‘Dead Zone’ is a new concept introduced by the jails department comprising special cells where there is no signal to operate mobile phones. The zone is guarded by a three-tier security, including the CRPF personnel.

The prisons department has also decided to curtail movement of these inmates by increasing their confinement inside the cells to 22 hours as compared to the ordinary inmates who are freed from the cells for nine hours.

This move was challenged by seven gangsters and their family members in the Punjab and Haryana high court citing it as ‘quasi-solitary’ confinement in violation of rights guaranteed under Article 21. The court has also suggested some observations on steps that can be taken to lodge these criminals.

The gangsters who had challenged the decision include Jaggu Bhagwanpuria, Ramandeep Singh Rammi, Chandan alias Chandu, Kulpreet Singh alias Neeta Deol.

The single-judge bench had termed depriving human company for extended hours as ‘quasi confinement’.

“The judgment of the Supreme Court that made the basis for the single-judge bench order dates back to 1978. The world has changed and evolved thereafter and so has style of the criminals,” a senior prisons department functionary said.

Officials are of the view that the idea behind restricting the freedom of the gangsters inside cells was to make them feel what it means to be inside jails as many of them were found running their rackets from inside jails.

During the court hearings, the department even had given an affidavit in the court, citing instances of dangerous/notorious prisoners found operating their illegal activities from the high security zones of the jails already in place.

Additional director general of police (ADGP), prisons, Praveen Kumar Sinha, said the department is filing the letter patents appeal (LPA) to challenge the single-bench decision, taking various grounds.

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