A special court has asked the DGP, Prisons to take appropriate action against an errant prison officer of Byculla jail for failing to respond for almost two months to the plea of a terminally ill prisoner Nirmala Uppuganti seeking to be permitted to send and receive letters while in custody.
Uppuganti, also known as Narmada Akka, is the main accused in a IED blast in 2019 by Naxals in Gadchiroli that had killed 15 security personnel. The blast was allegedly to avenge the killing of 40 Naxalites by security forces.
The 59-year-old is presently in hospice care as she suffers from stage four cancer and was shifted from Byculla women’s prison to Shanti Avedna Sadan. In her plea, she said that she is not being allowed to write letters to her advocates and her family members from the care centre where she is in custody. Her application stated that when she was in prison she was permitted the facility. Her advocates told the court that as per rules of the prison manual, a prisoner is allowed to despatch letters at short intervals to near relatives and friends. The court had called for the prison’s report on the matter on Oct 12. Special Judge DE Kothalikar said in his order that the matter was adjourned twice and the jail superintendent did not submit the report. It noted that thereafter, the court had asked Uppuganti’s advocate to serve the copy of their application to the jail. However, though it was served, the court said there was no response received from jail authority.
“It is unfortunate to observe that whenever this court has called for reports from prison authorities, it is found that the same have not been responded to punctually,” the court said, adding that this causes “interference in the administration of justice” and prevents the court from proceeding further.
Judge Kothalikar then directed that a copy of his order be sent to the DGP, Prisons for appropriate action against the errant officer and for giving directions to all prison superintendents working under him to follow the directions given by the court in its letter and spirit.
The court in its order also permitted Uppuganti to receive and send letters stating that as per a rule of the prison manual she is entitled to the facility. It said that no reason was forthcoming why she was prevented from availing the facility.
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