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Dissatisfied with police probe, HC asks CBI to investigate Tihar undertrial’s death

New Delhi: The Delhi high court has questioned the prison authorities for not carrying out a proper investigation into the alleged murder of an undertrial prisoner at Tihar Jail by jail officers, and asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the allegations raised by the family
PUBLISHED ON JUL 21, 2021 11:52 PM IST

New Delhi: The Delhi high court has questioned the prison authorities for not carrying out a proper investigation into the alleged murder of an undertrial prisoner at Tihar Jail by jail officers, and asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the allegations raised by the family. The victim, identified as Shrikant Rama Swami, was supposed to released on the day he allegedly got into a fight with fellow inmates and later died in a hospital.

The court’s order comes on a plea by a woman, whose son, identified as Shrikant Rama Swami, was lodged in the Tihar jail since June 13, 2019, in connection with three FIRs which lists offences of attempt to murder, robbery, dacoity, obstructing a public servant on duty, counterfeiting and relevant sections of Arms Act.

Swami’s advocate Shailendra Singh said that his client was granted bail and was supposed to be released on May 14 this year. “He was supposed to be released from the jail as he was granted bail under the guidelines of the high powered committee to de-congest jails during the pandemic. However, his dead body came out, “ said Singh.

Justice Mukta Gupta on Tuesday said that the post -mortem report of the victim, Shrikant Rama Swami, has not been placed on record before the court, and noted that the investigation into the call received by the victim’s sister a day prior to the incident is also “incomplete”, despite an FIR getting registered two months back.

The Director General (DG) of Prisons had informed the court that most of the CCTVs in the Tihar Jail were not working, adding that more than half of the 6,967 CCTVs to be installed in the premises are functional and that the rest would be made operational by August 15.

“It is thus evident that no CCTV footage of the incident is available. However, the prime issue which now concerns this court, besides the manner in which the death of the inmate has been caused, is why no proper investigation could be carried out despite the fact that a PCR call was made from a phone number from the jail and the said phone number is duly recorded in the PCR call,” the court said in its eight-page order.

“Considering the fact that as per status report filed by the jail superintendent, there was no apparent injury on the deceased. However, the case of the petitioner is that there were deep injury marks on the deceased and an in depth investigation is required... to find out the circumstances under which the deceased made a phone call to his sister expressing his apprehension of death and his subsequent death in the judicial custody... this court finds it fit to transfer the investigation of the case FIR in question to CBI,” the judge added.

Pointing to a call received by the victim’s sister a day prior to the alleged assault, the plea filed by Swami’s mother also said that his body had several deep cuts which it claimed could not have been caused by a cricket bat.

The jail authorities had informed the court that three undertrials were found beating Swami with cricket bats around 7am on May 14. Later, after he complained of body pain, he was taken to the hospital where he died at 11.30am. They also said that an FIR into the death has been registered at the Hari Nagar police station.

The court noted that the investigation based on the mobile phone number as noted in the PCR call still appears to be “incomplete”.

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