Mobile Phone Found In Berhampore Jail; Calcutta HC Directed State Govt To Inspect All Prisons

Berhampore Jail

The Calcutta High Court recently ordered the West Bengal government to inspect all jails to determine whether inmates are permitted to use mobile phones or other electronic devices inside the prison.

A division bench of Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Ajay Kumar Gupta expressed displeasure over the discovery of a mobile phone in the possession of an accused in a narcotics case lodged in the Berhampore Correctional Home.

“We take judicial notice that mobile phones and electronic devices permitting access to inmates to the outside from the Correctional Home is endemic. Many undertrials regularly use mobile phones with impunity to keep contact with miscreants and commit offences from jail. This grave aberration in prison security must be immediately addressed and remedied,” the bench stated.

As a result, the bench directed the Principal Secretary, Correctional Service, and the Director General and Inspector General of Police to conduct thorough searches in all correctional homes throughout the state, as well as to ensure that no inmates possess a mobile phone or any other electronic device.

“If any gadget is found, the same shall immediately be seized. The officers shall look into the feasibility of setting up jammers inside the Correctional Homes so that the inmates are unable to use mobile phone or other devices inside the correctional home. The officers shall also explore the possibility of setting up X-ray/scanner machines etc., for the purpose of checking inmates at the time when they are initially admitted to custody and/or whenever they are remitted to custody after production in Court or otherwise,” the bench ordered. 

In addition, the court ordered the authorities to submit a report on the matter by March.

Concerning the accused discovered using a mobile phone in the Berhampore prison, the Court noted that the authority in question, namely the Inspector General of Police, did not conduct an investigation himself but

After going through a separate report submitted pursuant to the court’s orders, it noted that the call detail records (CDRs) indicated that much prior to the searches conducted in the jail, the petitioner accused had made phone calls from the Correctional Home. 

“This demonstrates that he was in possession of the phone at the time the searches were conducted. Searches conducted inside the Correctional Home seem to have been handled quite carelessly. Observing that the Inspector General of Police (Correctional Services) seems to have the most liberal stance on the situation is distressing,” the bench noted.

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