High Court notice to police on terror suspects’ rights

October 3rd, 2008 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to the home ministry and Delhi Police for not abiding by the Supreme Court’s guidelines on the rights of terror suspects involved in the Sep 13 serial blasts here that killed 24 people and left 124 injured. A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar issued the notice after NGO People’s Union for Democratic Rights filed a petition on behalf of Zia-ur-Rehman, who was arrested from the Jamia Nagar area for allegedly planting one of the bombs.

Appearing for the NGO, noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan told the court that Delhi Police had violated the Supreme Court guidelines by not allowing the suspect’s lawyer to meet him in custody.

“The Supreme Court has framed a guideline on the rights of the accused and has said a memo of arrest needs to be issued to the immediate family for counter-signature, particulars of officers who made the arrest and conducted the interrogation should be recorded and while in custody, the accused is entitled to have a friend or a relative with him,” Bhushan contended.

“The apex court also said the accused should be medically examined every 48 hours when in custody and that his lawyers can be present when he is being interrogated,” he added.

The bench, after hearing the petition, allowed the advocates to meet the suspected terrorists in the office of Delhi Police Special Cell in the presence of assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Sanjeev Yadav at 7 p.m. Friday. A relative of Zia-ur-Rehman was also permitted to meet him along with the advocate.

The bench directed the authorities to submit their replies by Oct 15 as to why guidelines laid down by the apex court were not being followed and why the human rights of the accused were infringed.

However, the bench rejected petitioner’s contention that it appoint a court commissioner in the case, saying this was not feasible.

“We have received a court notice on the public interest petition. We will submit our reply on the due date as directed by it,” Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.

On Wednesday, former Union law minister and Supreme Court advocate Shanti Bhushan and Zia-ur-Rehman’s lawyers were not allowed to meet meet him.

Accompanying the lawyers was activist Arundhati Roy, who claimed the policemen “scoffed and laughed at us”. Rehman’s sister Saira Bano was also the part of the delegation.

Delhi Police counsel Mukta Gupta, appearing in a similar case involving another Delhi blasts suspect Shakir Nisar before the same bench, said that Nisar’s family has already approached another bench of the high court, which has granted them permission to meet the accused in custody.

Gupta also informed the court that the lawyers were not allowed on Oct 1 because of the absence of officials at the police station but their relatives were subsequently called on Oct 2 to meet the accused but none of them came.

Bhushan, however, denied receiving any such call.

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