Delhi pogrom: Court directs jail superintendent to appear on Devangana Kalita’s plea

A Delhi court Friday directed the Tihar Jail superintendent to appear before it on a plea moved by Jawaharlal Nehru University research scholar and Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita seeking permission to send notes to her counsel, which she made from the charge sheet filed against her in a north-east Delhi violence case, in a sealed cover from the jail, PTI reported.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat asked to the jail superintendent to appear along with the legal officer before the court on January 23.

The court notice came after the jail authorities submitted in the reply filed to the application, that as per the Delhi prison rules, the concerned officials have to approve the notes before they are sent to her lawyers.

According to Kalita’s lawyer Adit S Pujari, he is aware of the prison rules but Kalita has sought the court’s directions as the notes are a part of their defence evidence and they don’t trust the prison authorities with it.

“The court should also consider that it is a client-lawyer privilege that may be hampered if the contents are first screened by the jail officials. If this court believes there are such risks, we are okay with the judge perusing the report but we do not trust the jail authorities. That is why we have sought the court’s directions here,” Pujari told the court.

Earlier, Devangana Kalita told the court that she had made some notes and charts after reading the charge sheet filed against her and sought the court’s directions so that they can be sent to her lawyer.

Kalita is accused in four FIRs in connection with northeast Delhi violence.

Devangana Kalita, JNU research scholar and one of the founding members of the Pinjra Tod was arrested in the case in May 2020 by the Crime Branch of the Delhi police and booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder and also been booked by Delhi Police Special Cell under the draconian UAPA in a separate case related to the northeast Delhi violence, for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the violence.

International human rights watchdogs including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and opposition parties in India had called for the release of Devangana Kalita and other anti-CAA activists who were ‘targetted by Hindu nationalist government for protesting anti-Muslim laws’ and ‘arrested under false accusations by Delhi Police.’

Police accused the anti-CAA activists of being key “conspirators” in the Delhi pogrom that erupted in 2020 February. The pogrom is widely acknowledged to have been sparked by incendiary comments made by Kapil Mishra, a BJP leader, about Muslims peacefully protesting against ‘anti-Muslim and unconstitutional’ citizenship law. Video evidence and witness accounts pointed to police allowing Hindu mobs to roam the streets freely to target the Muslim community.