On Wednesday, Director General of Police (DGP Prisons) Rishiraj Singh issued an order to all state prison heads stating that law enforcement agencies — state and central — will not be permitted to interrogate inmates until the agencies assure to video record the interrogation.
DGP Singh said that the order is based on the December 3 Supreme Court directive which states that CCTV cameras with audio recording and night vision are a must in all police stations, entries and exit points, and interrogation rooms across the country. The recorded video footage must be stored for 18 months.
The SC order is also applicable for central investigation agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Narcotics Control Bureau, etc. The SC order was passed for preventing human rights violations of inmates. The order, however, has immense effect in Kerala, since most of the central agencies are here probing into the gold and dollar smuggling, which has alleged ties to the Chief Minister’s office.
Meanwhile, a week ago, Swapna told the Additional Magistrate Court alleging that her life was under threat at Attakulangara jail in Thiruvananthapuram. Swapna claimed that a group, “identifiable” as police and prison officials, warned her against revealing the names of VIPs suspected to be involved in criminal activities. They also told her not to cooperate with investigating agencies. The court granted her protection in custody and asked DGP Singh to do the needful. The DGP asked the DIG (Prisons), South Zone, to investigate the matter.
Considering the facts, the central agencies have asked that they need to question Swapna without any police officer standing guard. This is also implying to how a left-leaning police officer helped a senior officer orchestrate the controversial audio clip where Swapna claimed that the ED officials are forcing her to name the CM.
In this context, Rishiraj Singh added that prison officers could send away any central agency arriving at the prisons without the necessary video recording equipment to interrogate prisoners. The jail superintendents have been bestowed with the power to ensure that the agencies have brought the necessary recording equipment.
Meanwhile, on concluding the probe into Swapna’s complaint, DIG (Prisons) Ajaykumar informed in a report that no one had threatened Swapna in prison. Ajaykumar also investigated the jail’s CCTV footages and found no evidence that she was threatened. Swapna’s lawyer Sooraj T Elangickal called the DIG’s report as baseless and said the court granted her protection and took gravity of her appeal.