Court directs jail authorities not to strip search undertrial prisoners | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Court directs jail authorities not to strip search undertrial prisoners

Apr 15, 2023 12:24 AM IST

A special TADA court in Mumbai has ruled that strip searching undertrial prisoners is a violation of their fundamental rights and directed prison authorities to use scanners or gadgets for searches. If a personal search is required, it should not be conducted in a humiliating manner, said judge BD Shelke. The ruling came after a complaint by Ahmed Kamal Shaikh, who claimed he was made to strip for a personal search before other prisoners and staff members. The court noted that other undertrial prisoners had made similar complaints.

MUMBAI: “Strip search of undertrial prisoners is violation of their fundamental rights”, the special TADA (Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) court said on Thursday and directed the prison authorities not to strip prisoners for their search.

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The special court has asked the authority to search the undertrial prisoners (UTP) only by use of scanners or gadgets.

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“If scanner / electronic gadgets are not available and personal search of UTP is required to be conducted physically, do not misbehave with UTP, do not humiliate UTP, do not strip the UTP, do not use filthy language or unparliamentary language against the UTPs,” special TADA judge BD Shelke said while hearing the complaint of one of the accused booked in 1993 blast case.

The court said, if a personal search of a prisoner is required to be conducted, it should be done without humiliating them.

The special court was hearing the plea filed by Ahmed Kamal Shaikh alias Ahmed Lambu, who is facing trial for his alleged role in the March 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai. Shaikh alleged that, when he was taken back to jail after being produced before the TADA Court, the search guard at the entrance gate of the prison made him strip for personal search before other prisoners and staff members, which was humiliating and in breach of his right to privacy.

When he opposed, he said, the concerned guards used filthy language, and unparliamentary language, misbehaved with him and humiliated him in presence of other prisoners. Shaikh said the guards also threatened him, prompting him to approach the special court for necessary directions to the prison guards to stop this humiliating practice. He said other prisoners are also subjected to the same practice.

The prison authority, however, denied the allegation, claiming no such incident took place and claimed that the plea was filed by Shaikh only to pressurise the authorities.

The court after hearing both sides noted that “there is some substance in the contention of applicant / accused no.2 (Shaikh). Apart from this, the applicant / accused in this case, other UTPs who are brought before this Court also made such complaints against the searching guard.”

“Certainly, taking search by making the UTP nude is a violation of his fundamental right to privacy, it is also humiliating. Not only this but using unparliamentary or filthy language against the accused is also humiliating to the UTP,” the special court observed.

Previously, in February, Danish Ahmed, a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim’s nephew Sohel, had also made a similar complaint that he was stripped in front of prison staff and other prisoners for personal search. The same court had asked the prison superintendent to make sure that no such incident takes place in the prison.

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