Delhi HC refuses to transfer JeM militant from Tihar to Srinagar Jail

NEW DELHI — The Delhi High Court has declined to transfer from Tihar Jail to Srinagar Jail a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant, who is serving life term in a UAPA case, considering the law and order repercussions expressed by the authorities after evaluating the security risk.

Sixty-six-year-old JeM militant Abdul Majeed Baba sought transfer to his native state jail, Srinagar Central Jail, from Central Jail of Tihar in Delhi pleading his ill health and that his family members were unable to meet him frequently in Delhi.

Justice Poonam A Bamba said the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 provide that the prisoner may be transferred from one prison to another on medical and humanitarian grounds with prior approval of the state government.

“However, in view of the above facts and circumstances and taking into account the apprehension of law and order repercussions expressed by the state pursuant to evaluation of the security risk in transfer of the petitioner from Central Jail Tihar, Delhi to Srinagar Central Jail, this court is not inclined to grant the prayer of the petitioner (Baba),” Justice Bamba said.

It was submitted in the plea that the petitioner was a resident of Jammu and Kashmir and was lodged in high-risk ward of Tihar Jail pursuant to his conviction in a 2007 case lodged by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the offences of criminal conspiracy, conspiracy to wage war against the government, collecting arms for waging war and concealing with intent to facilitate the design to wage war under the Indian Penal Code and the provisions of the UAPA.

The petitioner said he was old and was suffering from multiple ailments and his health was deteriorating. Therefore, being close to his family would help him recover better.

The petition was opposed by the prosecutor who said Baba was a hard core militant of a banned terrorist organisation and during pendency of his appeal, when the court had released on bail, he absconded.

He was later arrested in 2019 from Srinagar and there was every likelihood of the convict managing to flee from any other jail, considering his past conduct, the prosecutor argued.

The state, in its status report, mentioned that according to an advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the shifting of high risk prisoners from the jail of one state or union territory to the other, it has been emphasised that states or union territories need to be extremely cautious in shifting high risk prisoners to other jails and that inputs from both, the central and state security agencies should be taken to avoid any adverse security implications in transfer of such prisoners.

The court was informed that Baba’s request for transfer was rejected by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi after consideration.

The prosecutor submitted that taking into account the previous conduct of the convict and other facts or inputs, there was an apprehension of likelihood of law and order repercussions in both, the transferring and the receiving state, in case the petitioner is transferred to Srinagar Central jail.

The court said according to the MHA’s advisory, the government has to be cautious in transfer of high risk prisoners convicted in terror related cases taking into account the security implications of such transfers in both, the transferring and the receiving state or union territory.

Regarding the issue of the petitioner’s health, the court said as per the report of the jail medical officer, he was being provided due medical care and treatment.

It directed the jail superintendent to ensure that requisite treatment or medical care be continued to be provided to the petitioner. — (PTI)