Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Delhi High Court turns down jail transfer plea of hardcore JeM militant held under UAPA

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The High Court of Delhi has dismissed the petition filed by a hardcore militant of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) Abdul Majeed Baba, seeking transfer from Tihar jail to the Central Jail in Sirnagar on medical grounds.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Poonam Bamba passed the order on November 3 on a petition filed by the 66-year-old militant, a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, who was currently serving life imprisonment in a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The High Court, while taking into account the ill health of the petitioner, directed the Superintendent of Jail to ensure that requisite treatment and medical care was provided to him.

The petitioner had sought transfer to Srinagar Central Jail, contending that his health was deteriorating every day and his family members from Kashmir were unable to visit him.

Baba was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the offences under Sections 120B, 121A, 122 and 123 of IPC and Sections 17, 18, 20, 21 and 23 of the UAPA. His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in February, 2020.

The militant is currently lodged in a high-risk ward of Central Jail, Tihar. 

The Counsel representing Baba argued that Rules 664 and 672 of the Delhi Prison Rules provided for transfer of prisoners on humanitarian as well as medical grounds. Abdul’s application for transfer had earlier been rejected by Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor on September 24, 2021.

However, the State argued that Baba was a hardcore militant of banned terrorist organisation JeM and had absconded during pendency of his appeal before the High Court, when he was released on bail.

The prosecution further apprised the court that the petitioner remained absconding for a long time and repeated non-bailable warrants could not be executed for a period of six years from 2013 to 2019. A reward of Rs two lakh was declared for his arrest, after which the militant was arrested from Srinagar on May 11, 2019.

The public prosecutor further contended that there was every likelihood of the militant managing to flee from any other jail, considering his past conduct.

It was also submitted by the State that the transfer of the militant may have law and order repercussions in both the transferring and the receiving state. It added that the petitioner’s request for transfer to Srinagar Jail was rightly declined after duly considering the above facts and circumstances as well as his past conduct.

The Counsel representing the militant contended that he could not surrender before the police as he was under treatment in a hospital in Srinagar.

The High Court took into account the security advisory, which was  issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in September, 2015 and submitted by the prosecution, related to shifting of high risk prisoners from the jail of one State or Union Territory to another jail of a different State or Union Territory, 

The Bench, while noting that the government had to remain ‘cautious,’ while shifting high-risk prisoners convicted in terror-related cases, taking into account the security implications of such transfers, dismissed the petition.

{Case title: Abdul Majeed Baba vs State (NCT of Delhi) & Ors}

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