Prison authorities informed the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that mobile signals, especially of Jio 4G, could not be blocked inside Tihar Jail with the technology they have and state-run C-DOT has been asked to develop a prototype jammer to prevent illegal communications by prisoners.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) initiated by it after receiving a letter from a life convict alleging that jail authorities were involved in various illegal activities such as extortion of money, supply of drugs, mobile phones and other prohibited items.
It further alleged that prisoners were being "tortured like animals" by the jail authorities. After receiving the letter in 2018 the court had asked a jail visiting judge to investigate the allegations and file a report.
The judge, in his report in April 2019, informed the court that the allegation of prohibited items being found inside the prison, and of jail authorities extorting money from prisoners for providing basic right of one hour release per day, was established based on statements of various inmates.
The case was being heard on Tuesday by a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar.
During the hearing Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the bench that the officials who were involved in the extortion racket, according to the report, have been suspended and departmental inquiry has been initiated against them.
Besides, he also told the bench that over 5,000 CCTV cameras were being installed inside the prison and 50 body cameras have been purchased for the searching teams and two full body scanners were going to be procured to scan for items swallowed by inmates during a search or while entering the prison.
Regarding installation of the CCTV cameras, the bench said such systems should all be put up inside the offices of the jail officials and ought not to be confined only to monitor the inmates.
Mr Mehra agreed with the court's suggestion, saying "we can do that and we should".
He further told the court that to combat the menace of illegal usage of mobile phones inside the jail, the prison authorities said they are exploring effective means or technology, like jammers.
Mr Mehra said that during testing of jammers, provided by Electronics Corporation of India Limited, it was found that mobile signals, especially of Jio 4G, were not effectively blocked inside the prison.
Subsequently, "it was decided that Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) may take up as a pilot project for identifying viable jamming solutions to prevent unauthorised communications from jail premises and develop a prototype jammer for this purpose", Mr Mehra told the court which listed the matter for further hearing on April 28.