Abid Hussain

Injustice in the temple of justice at Budgam!

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In absence of judicial lock-up, people kept in ‘recovery room’

Budgam: District court complex in Budgam lacks judicial lock-up; and the people who are sent to judicial custody here are actually locked up in a recovery room, which is filled with all sorts of trash including even the contraband substances and sharp-edged weapons.

Interestingly, besides the heaps of poppy straw, brown sugar, wine bottles, bicycles, rods countless other objects which could easily be used as weapons are placed in the recovery room.

One of the persons who was given into judicial custody and kept here told ‘Kashmir Images’ that he spent six hours in the recovery room. “I missed hearing after which I along with my brother was locked up in a room. My brother fell unconscious due to the smell there. Nobody came to see us.”

Few days back, a video posted by Budgam’s social activist Firdous Nabi on Facebook went viral, which purportedly shows two persons struggling in presence of contraband substance during their ‘judicial custody’.

To ascertain facts, this reporter visited Budgam court complex and took pictures of the recovery room (read ‘judicial lock-up’) and it was also confirmed by lawyers that in absence of proper judicial lock-up, people accused of various offences are locked in the recovery room.

After getting firsthand account of ‘judicial custody’ many questions can be raised.

How can humans be locked up in such a room where there is not even a space of few feet for them to stand up or sit? What if there is a brawl between two or more locked-up persons — they easily turn into and use objects lying there as weapons? What if someone locked up there consumes something?

Talking to ‘Kashmir Images’ social activist Nabi said that lodging people in the recovery room under “dangerous circumstances” could prove disastrous.

“People have great hope in judiciary, but if such an injustice happens inside the court complexes, then what could one expect elsewhere,” he said.

He added that before pronouncing judicial custody to anyone, the judges and the Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam should ensure that there is a proper and safe place for that.

A lawyer here pointed out that it is dangerous to lodge people in the recovery room as “they can even commit any offence or suicide with the kind of items and substances lying there”.

People and lawyers also blamed authorities for not ensuring that there were drinking water and washroom facilities for those kept in judicial custody. “It is the duty of the authorities to provide facilities like drinking water and washroom. The place should be neat and clean. However, here what we see is a room which is like a godown with all sorts of trash in it.”

When contacted Chief Persecuting Officer  Qazi Abdul Qayoom confirmed, “We don’t have judicial lock-up here.”

Asked about the people being kept up in the recovery room, he said, “We are ascertaining whether people are locked in a recovery room.”

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