TV interview of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi: HC asks ADGP, prisons to file affidavit

The Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the additional director general of prisons in Punjab on Thursday to file an affidavit after it came to know that there was not much headway in a matter related to a television interview of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi that were aired almost eight months ago.

A division bench of Justices Anupinder Singh Grewal and Kirti Singh expressed concern over the interview, observing that Bishnoi, an accused in the 2022 murder case of singer Sidhu Moosewala, was either in police or judicial custody when he spoke to the television channel.

It said those who facilitated the interview should be identified at the earliest and taken to task.

The court took note of the interview while hearing a suo-motu (on its own) matter related to the use of mobile phones by jail inmates.

In March, a private television news channel ran the two-part interview of Bishnoi.

The Punjab Police had then claimed that the interview was not recorded in any of the jails in the state.

Police had subsequently formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the matter.

“It has also come to our notice that one of the suspects in the murder of Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu Moosewala, namely Lawrence Bishnoi, had been interviewed by a news channel. The interview was telecast in March from 14.03.2023 to 17.03.2023. The suspect was said to be in the custody of the Punjab Police or judicial custody in the state of Punjab at that time,” the court order read.

After the court’s query as to whether the suspect was in police or judicial custody when the interview was conducted, the counsel for the Punjab government submitted that he was in judicial custody in the Bathinda Jail when the interview was telecast and that efforts were on to ascertain the time and place of the interview.

A two-member committee comprising the special DGP (STF) and ADGP (prisons) was formed in March to look into the matter and the enquiry is underway.

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The court said it is a matter of grave concern that a suspect in police or judicial custody was allowed to give an interview at length.

“The officer(s) who permitted or facilitated the interview need to be identified and taken to task at the earliest,” the bench said in its order.

“The committee had been constituted in March 2023 and seven months have elapsed but not much headway has been made. The additional director general of prisons shall file an affidavit as to why it has taken so long for the committee to submit its report,” the order read.

The court also asked advocate Tanu Bedi to assist it as an “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) in the matter and fixed November 28 as the next date of hearing.

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