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Author: Samarth Sanodiya, III year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur.

Sunil Balyan alias Tillu Tajpuriya is the alleged mastermind in the 2021 Rohini court shootout case. He was convicted and sent to the Tihar jail, the biggest jail of south Asia. On the morning of 2nd May, 2023, he was assaulted and stabbed to death by rival gangsters of Jitender Gogi gang inside a high-risk ward at Tihar Jail. The police officers said that they suspect the murder to be a revenge murder as Gogi was shot dead by two men who were sent by Tillu during a hearing at Rohini Court on September 24, 2021. The police suspected so because hours after Tajpuriya’s killing, a social media post by fugitive gangster Goldy Brar said: “Today my friends Yogesh Tonda and Deepak Titar killed Tillu Tajpuriya. He had killed my brother Gogi and we took revenge”

Tihar jail is one of the three prison complexes in Delhi. The other two prison complexes are at Rohini and Mandoli. Tajpuriya was shifted from Mandoli jail to Tihar jail on April 22 over security concerns.The four men involved in Tillu’s murder are: Yogesh Tonda, Deepak Titar, Rajesh Singh and Riyaz Khan. The murder by these four men appears to be a pre-planned murder as they had done preparations like making a rope out of bedsheet, making weapons, days before the murder. This murder is second such incident of gang rivalry in Tihar in a month. In April, Prince Tewatia, who is an aide of an accused in Sidhu Moosewala’s murder, was also killed by members of a rival gang. Let’s look into the chain of events in Tillu’s murder, what is the law which governs such acts in prisons, what procedure is supposed to be followed after a murder takes place in prison, what are the liabilities of the prisoner who commits the offence and what are the challenges faces by the prison authorities in preventing such crimes.

CHAIN OF EVENTS: Around 6 am on 2nd May, the four men cut through the iron grille near the barrack and made weapons such as blades and rods out of it. They also had small hand-made knives. Around 6:05 am, the four men cut through the iron grilles though improvised knives. They then used the rope made of bedsheets to climb down 12 feet to the ground floor where Tillu was lodged and attacked him. Around 6:10 am, the prison officials hear screams fromtheground floor and rush to the ward. They see Tillu lying on the floor with over 20 injuries. At 6:15 am, Tilluis rescued and senttojailhospital.From there,he’s shifted to DDU Hospital. At 7 am,DDU and jail officials call police and inform the mabout Tillu’s death.

ACTS, RULES AND PROCEDURE: The Delhi Prisons Act, 2000 was enacted by the legislative assembly of Delhi to provide a framework for the management of the prions in Delhi and its inmates. It provides the roles and duties of various prison authorities in managing the affairs of the prisons in Delhi.Chapter 2 of the said act provides the hierarchy of the officers in a prison. It says that there shall be one inspector general who shall be in charge of all the prisons in Delhi. However, the Lieutenant Governor is free to appoint as many Additional, Joint, Deputy or Assistant Inspector General as it may think fir. Section 6 of the act states that for every prison in Delhi, there shall be a Superintendent, a Deputy Superintendent, a Medical Officer, a Law Officer, and a Welfare officer. Apart from these, any other officer may also be appointed for a Prison if the Governor deems fit.

Chapter 3 of the Act provides the duties of all the prison officers. It is the duty of all the officers in the prison, if they receive information regarding death of a prisoner, to give immediate notice of such death to the Superintendent and the medical officer. One of the major duties of the medical officer is to prepare a report on the death of any prisoner in the Jail. The report shall mention all the relevant and necessary details like the cause, manner, mode and time of death. The medical officer shall forthwith send the report to the Superintendent and the Inspector General. If the superintendent or Inspector General receives information that the death has been caused by accident or murder or suicide, he shall immediately inform about such death to the nearest executive magistrate to hold inquest proceedings.

Chapter 11 of the Act gives a list of acts and omissions which can considered as prison offences. Prison offences are the offences committed by a prisoner. Any assault or use of criminal force and aiding or abetting the commission of any offence is also covered under prison offences. On commission of a prison offence, the inquiry of the person alleged to have committed the offence, can be conducted either by the Superintendent or any other officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent authorised by the Superintendent. Such officer can also impose any of the punishment given under section 47 of the act. One of the punishments is the cellular confinement of the offender in which he is deprive of any form of communication with any other prisoner. Under the act, there is need to maintain a punishment book which shall contain records of the punishment given by the prison officers to the offenders. It shall contain information about the offence committed, the punishment given, the name of prisoner, the number of previous prison offences recorded against the prisoner etc.

According to section 51, if it seems to the superintendent that the prison offence is not adequately punishable by infliction of any punishment under section 47, he may forward such prisoner to the court of any metropolitan magistrate having jurisdiction. Such magistrate shall then enquire into and try the charge brought against the prisoners and may grant sentence which may extend to one year.

TIHAR JAIL AND ITS SECURITY: The department of prisons, which comes under the Delhi government, is responsible for the management and security of the prison.The administration has several duties including ensuring the safety and security of the inmates.The Tihar jail contains 9 central prisons.Jail number 8 of Delhi’s Tihar Jail houses dreaded gangsters from north India and other high-risk inmates. Jail number 8 is also known as high-risk ward. The death of Tillu undoubtedly raises security concerns for the other inmates kept in the prison. One of the major challenges for the Delhi Prisons Department in providing security is crowding and congestion. Though jail number8 has a capacityof 1,200 prisoners, there are more than 2,800 prisoners lodged there at present. To keep a check on the prisoners,thereare60-80officers and975CCTVs.

For the purpose of security, it has been mandated by the Delhi Prisons Act that both the superintendent and deputy superintendent shall have their residence within the premises of the prison. Offence can be committed at any time in the prison even beyond the working hours. The presence of superintendent 24*7 ensures that on the commission of any offence, immediate action can be taken.

CHALLENGES AND WAY FORWARD: There are various challenges faced by the prison authorities in preventing the crimes within the prison.Only 4 to 5 people are stationed at the CCTV room which monitors more than 970 CCTV cameras. It is impossible for 4,5 men to look at the footage of 970 cameras simultaneously. One of the solutions is to create more CCTV rooms and deploy more personnel at the CCTV rooms. Another effective solution is the deployment of AI based cameras and intelligent software which will catch offenders and alert surveillance teams.

Another challenge for prison guards is frisking thousands of prisoners and catching weapons and mobiles. Conducting regular checks for every cell is an impossible task. Even if checks are conducted and weapons are seized, it is easy for inmates to make the weapons again and hide them.Keeping the rival gangs in different prisons or keeping the associates of the same gang separately and definitely reduce the chances of criminal conspiracy and planning.


The Delhi prisons Act, 2000 successfully provides the duties of the prison authorities, the procedure to be followed on commission of a prison offence, and the liabilities of the prisoners who have committed the prison offence. This act does not provide liabilities of the authorities on failure of preventing crime or breach of security. This is because, it is nearly impossible to prevent crime in prison with numerous inmates and limited space. Though the prison offences cannot be completely stopped, the frequency of such offences can be reduced with proper measures like increasing the capacity of the prisons, using cameras with artificial intelligence, keeping the rival gangs in separate prisons etc. Every time any such major crime takes place, an inquiry must be conducted to find out the manner in which the crime took place. This will help the authorities to prevent the crime in future and help in finding the loopholes which need to be filled to prevent such crimes. Such inquiry shall also help in finding if there is any officer or guard who defaulted in his duty to stop the crime from taking place.


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