Don’t have jurisdiction to ask Mumbai jail to provide books to inmate Delhi high court

Sunday, Mar 20, 2016,10:57 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | The Delhi High Court said it has no jurisdiction to ask authorities of Mumbai Central Jail as to why a prisoner, who has been incarcerated there, was not provided books required for a course on homeopathy. It requires debate. I cannot direct the state or Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH).

If petitioner would have been in Delhi, then I would have directed, a bench of Justice Manmohan said. The court, however, was of the view that CCRH should give books to Tihar Jail free of cost. Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui, an accused in the 2006 Mumbai train blasts, had sent a letter in 2012 to Delhi High Court, after Central Information Commission (CIC) had denied his request to be given 45 books published by CCRH under the RTI Act.

The court had converted the letter to a PIL, and issued notice to Delhi prison authorities and the central government on the issue of whether rights under RTI Act were available to the prisoner, and whether published books could be brought under the RTI Act. The CCRH and the CIC, however, said the books could not be provided under RTI as they were priced publications which could only be given at a cost, and not for free under the RTI Act.

Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing on behalf of the Delhi government, told the court that Tihar Jail had a welfare programme under which it could have paid the fee under the RTI Act or purchased the books. However, the Delhi government said that Delhi authorities did not have any jurisdiction as the prisoner was lodged at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.

Advocate Sumeet Pushkarna, who had appeared as amicus curiae in the case, also argued that the jail authorities and the government should have purchased the books for Siddiqui, or given e-books or soft copies of the books, in case the purchase of the hard copies of the books was too expensive. They should get CCRH to provide copies, it’s a government publication, argued Pushkarna.