No doctors are willing to work in prisons the Maharashtra government has told the Bombay High Court.
“It seems that people [doctors] do not want to work there [in prisons],” Public Prosecutor (in-charge) Pandurang Pol told the court on Tuesday. “Every 15 days, there are walk-in interviews for the posts of prison medical officers, but there is little response.”
Lack of medical aid for HIV positive inmates in Maharashtra’s jails came to the fore when the HC was hearing the bail application of an ailing convict who wanted to be released so that he could spend his last days with his family.
The convict, who was HIV positive, passed away in March this year but the HC had kept the matter pending.
The division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar had earlier asked the government why it [court] should not release inmates who were suffering from the disease.
“We refuse to believe that no doctor is ready to go to prison [to treat inmates],” the Chief Justice said.
“For doctors to go to jails to treat, there must be some rudimentary infrastructure. You have to ensure first that doctors have something to work with there.”
The court asked Pol when the state government had last issued an advertisement for a prison medical doctor’s post, but he
had no answers.
The judges have now directed the government to issue advertisements in all major newspapers, and near prisons within a week.
The court has also asked the secretaries of the finance, health and home departments to meet and discuss the provision of infrastructure for prison hospitals.
Ailing prisoners are currently sent to government hospitals but they cannot always be taken there because of a shortage of police personnel to escort them.
Senior counsel Anand Grover offered to talk to non-governmental organisations that could provide doctors to treat HIV positive prisoners until the vacant posts are filled.
The court accepted the suggestion.