The air-conditioned private ward of a hospital — a popular getaway for high profile prisoners of Tihar Jail — is no longer within easy reach, thanks to a recent overhaul of Tihar’s medical policy.
Getting referred to a hospital of one’s choice, to get away from life in a cell, has been a common tactic of Tihar jail’s high profile inmates.
Consider the following: A senior official of a private firm was chargesheeted in the 2G spectrum scam and sent to a 15ft by10ft cell in Tihar jail on April 21. Barely a week later, he complained of ill health, and was subsequently admitted to an air-conditioned private ward of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He is yet to be discharged.
Ketan Desai, another former inmate and former chief of the Medical Council of India, arrested on graft charges by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 2010, allegedly spent three months –of the four months he spent in jail – in a similar ward in AIIMS before getting bail.
Former inmate Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, who was facing murder charges, had been admitted intermittently in AIIMS in 2005 following “obesity-related ailments”. Owing to his frequent meetings with aides there, a Delhi Armed Police escort team had even begun video-recording his activities in an attempt to put an end to the hospital stays.
But now, it is mandatory for a jail doctor to refer an inmate in accordance with a set protocol, Tihar’s director general Neeraj Kumar told HT.
“Earlier, a purportedly sick inmate could get a referral for admission to any hospital of his choice from a jail doctor or a court. But according to the new protocol, a sick inmate has to be first referred to the prison’s in-house Central Jail Hospital,” he added.
Henceforth, depending on the condition of an inmate’s health, he/she can be referred to one of the five hospitals of the Capital. “That will be Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital, Baba Saheb Ambedkar hospital, Lok Nayak Jay Prakash hospital, Safdarjung hospital and the AIIMS, in that order,” said Kumar.
In case of emergency, an inmate can be directly referred to the Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital.
A referral to a hospital located outside Tihar’s 400-acre campus must be vetted by the resident medical officer and the superintendent of the sub-jail where the inmate is lodged.
Even the courts have agreed to refer a petitioner for medical treatment in accordance with the new medical policy.
“The changes in our policy have deterred the high profile, white collared inmates 100 per cent. Earlier, most of them would complain of a chest pain or heartache immediately after arrival,” said Kumar.
According to jail’s spokesperson Sunil Gupta, the “changes” have shown instant results. “There is a 30% decrease in requests by inmates for getting admission to a jail outside on a daily basis.