The Delhi High Court has declined jailed Unitech directors Sanjay and Ajay Chandra's plea for daily access to their lawyers, saying the Supreme Court has directed not to provide them any additional facilities.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru said they would be allowed to interact with their lawyers via video conferencing only twice a week for 30 minutes each as is permitted for all other inmates.
"Since, such facilities are available to the prisoners twice a week, this court finds no reason to not allow the request of the petitioners (Chandras) for being permitted video conferencing facilities with their lawyers in order for them to defend the cases instituted against them.
"In the circumstances, the jail authorities are directed to provide video conferencing facilities to the petitioners twice a week for a period of thirty minutes each," the court said in its order of June 9.
It also made it clear that the video conferencing facility was only to interact with the lawyers and not with family and friends.
For talking to family and friends, they be provided limited telephone facilities, as given to other prisoners, the court said.
"This court is also of the view that it would not be apposite for this court to direct provision of further additional facilities in view of the order passed by the Supreme Court," it said and disposed of their plea.
The lawyer for the Chandras said they shall approach the Supreme Court for obtaining necessary clarification.
During the hearing on June 9, the prison authorities, represented by Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra and advocate Chaitanya Gosain, told the court that the apex court on May 9, 2019, had withdrawn additional facilities provided to the brothers.
They said that that the top court had also directed that the Chandras shall not be entitled to any additional facilities apart from those which are available in the normal course in terms of jail manual.
Mehra contended that in view of the apex court order the additional facilities sought by them cannot be granted.
The Chandras were put in Tihar after the Delhi Police arrested them in March 2017 for allegedly duping home buyers through two Unitech housing projects in Gurugram.
The Supreme Court has asked them to sell off their assets and raise funds to pay back the home buyers.
In their plea, they had contended that due to the COVID-19 outbreak visits of advocates and family members have been stopped indefinitely.
"That because of the threat posed by the impending coronavirus followed by the nationwide lockdown the meetings with lawyers, pairokars, accountants and consultants were cancelled indefinitely," the petition had said.
The Chandras had also contended that the jail rules allow an inmate two legal visits a week for 30 minutes each.
"This is the case for prisoners facing one charge. It is submitted that no separate rules are prescribed, that allow inmates having several cases against them with multiple charges, to have access to their advocates for an adequate time," they had said.
According to a status report filed in the matter by the jail authorities, there are 155 cases pending against them.