New Delhi [India], November 11 (ANI): The Government of NCT of Delhi has informed the Delhi High Court that 14 law officers have already been appointed and are expected to be at their respective jails on daily basis.
Submission of Delhi Government came on Monday, November 8, while responding to a contempt petition filed by Advocate Amit Sahni against non-compliance of October 2019 order passed by Division Bench of Delhi High Court thereby directing Delhi Government to appoint law officer in all 16 prisons of Delhi.
Additional Standing Counsel Gautam Narayan for Delhi Government submitted before Justice Najmi Waziri that 14 law officers have already been appointed. Two of the fourteen appointees are handling dual charges. One officer is looking after two jails that is Jail No 16 and Jail No 14 and the other officer is looking after Jail No 11 and Jail No 15. In effect, all jails have the assistance of law officers. He further submitted that in due course, two more officers shall be appointed to have individual charge of the two jails.
After taking note of the submissions, the Court adjourned the matter for December 15, 2021, to make an appointment as per directions passed by the Division Bench of Delhi High Court in October 2019 to appoint within 12 weeks a law officer in every jail in the capital to ensure that each inmate gets timely and free legal aid.
In October 2019, a division bench had directed Delhi Government to complete the appointment procedure as early as possible and practicable, preferably within a period of 12 weeks while disposing of the public interest litigation by advocate-activist Sahni, seeking enforcement and compliance of Section 6 of the Delhi Prisons Act, 2000, in a time-bound manner. The section mandates the appointment of a law officer for every jail.
The petition was filed by advocate Amit Sahni seeking compliance of Section 6 of Delhi Prison Act, 2000 which mandates that there shall be a Law Officer for every jail.
He also mentioned that the compliance is done by the respondents in all respect except appointing a law officer for every jail. "From August 2016 to February 2019, there was no law officer in Prison Headquarter and that the legal affairs used to be dealt by an officer equivalent to the rank of Deputy Superintendent," the petition stated.
Sahni through his petition also states that the appointment of law officers is essential for the following reasons like supervision of all legal matters, drafting and filing replies/responses to court matters, appearing in court along with government counsels, conducting research on legal issues pertaining to jail and prisoners.
The petitioner also made a representation to the government and Director General (Prisons) but no action was taken by the respondents in this regard. Section 6 of the Delhi Prison Act, 2000, mandates that there shall be a Law Officer for every jail. Apart from the same, it further mandates that there shall be a Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, a Medical Officer, and a welfare officer for every jail. (ANI)