Delhi HC allows Tihar Jail superintendent’s plea to produce Yasin Malik in court via video conference

Hurriyat leader Mohammad Yasin Malik being taken to court by armed forces in New Delhi on May 25, 2022. [File Photo]

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Tihar jail superintendent to produce Kashmiri Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik, jailed in a militancy funding case, via video conferencing only and not in person on August 09, when the appeal moved by National Investigation Agency seeking death penalty for him is listed for hearing.

A division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anish Dayal allowed an urgent application moved by Tihar jail authorities to produce Malik through video conferencing.

The high court is dealing with National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s plea seeking death sentence for him, challenging trial court’s order, which handed life imprisonment to Malik.

The jail authority has sought modification of the high court’s order directing personal presence of Malik during the hearing, saying that the convict is marked as a “very high risk” prisoner, hence he should be allowed to join the proceedings through VC.

“… it is submitted that the respondent Yasin Malik has been lodged in the Tihar Jail, New Delhi under the category of very high risk prisoners and thus, the present application is in relation to a heavy security issue. Therefore, it is imperative that Malik is not physically produced before this Hon’ble Court in order to maintain public order and safety,” the application said.

In July 21, the Supreme Court was stunned to see Malik before it as he appeared for an appeal filed by the CBI against a special Jammu court order calling for his physical appearance for trial in kidnapping and murder cases against him.

A bench of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Surya Kant recused itself from hearing the case and deferred it by four weeks.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had taken issue with Malik’s appearance before the top court, saying that the procedure is that the Registrar of the court needs to approve of such appearances.

He expressed sharp disapproval of the jail officials present in the court for allowing Malik, and apprised the bench that he cannot be brought out of jail since Section 268 of the Criminal Procedure Code applies to him.

The SG added that the government of India will be taking necessary steps to ensure that Malik is not let out of jail again, and said that it is a heavy security issue.

Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, who appeared for the CBI, said that Malik was brought out of jail callously by the jail authorities upon misinterpretation of the top court’s order.

The next day, Delhi prison authorities suspended four officers in Malik’s security lapse case, an official had told.

Last year in May, Malik was sentenced to life imprisonment by a special NIA court in a militancy funding case, offences under sections 120B, 121, 121A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 13 and 15 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) read with 120B of the IPC besides Sections 17, 18, 20, 38 and 39 of UAPA.

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