The authorities at Tihar Jail in New Delhi on Tuesday told the High Court that they will allow Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal to videoconference with her lawyer, make telephonic calls with her family, and provide access to books of her choice, Live Law reported.
Narwal has been in prison since last month in a case related to communal violence in the national Capital in February. The Delhi Police have also charged Narwal under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for her alleged role in inciting the violence between supporters and opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The superintendent of Tihar Jail submitted a status report before a single-judge bench of Justice Hari Shankar on Tuesday.
In the last hearing, Narwal’s counsel Adit Pujari had argued that as per Rule 627 of the Delhi Prison Rules, the accused is allowed interviews with their legal representatives, within sight but out of hearing of the jail officials. Pujari alleged that jail officials were currently listening to the conversations between Narwal and her legal counsel, and asked the court to ensure compliance with Rule 627. The counsel said that as the petitioner has two FIRs against her, she should be allowed more time to talk with her legal representatives.
Narwal’s lawyer sought extension of time granted for video conferencing by citing special provisions for female prisoners under Rule 1516 of the Delhi Prison Rules. Instead of two calls of 15 minutes each, the petitioner sought permission for two calls of 30 minutes duration each.
Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Tihar Jail, said that the petitioner’s requests had been granted. He said Narwal will be provided with headphones and screen sharing facility during videoconferencing for 30 minutes, as also telephone call facility. He added that all books that Narwal wants will be provided to her. The petitioner expressed satisfaction with these promises.
Pinjra Tod, a women’s rights collective, is accused of organising the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Jafrabad metro station in New Delhi in February. A group of around 500 women had protested against the new amended law at the metro station.
Narwal and fellow activist Devangana Kalita were first arrested on May 23. A day later, they were granted bail in the matter by a court in Delhi. Immediately after the court’s order, the Delhi Police moved an application to interrogate the two activists and arrested them in a separate case related to the violence. They were charged with attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy.
The Delhi Police had in May also charged Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha under the stringent act in a case related to February’s communal clashes. In April, former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid and Jamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar were charged under the UAPA.
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the new citizenship law and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.