Maharashtra prison inmates can now email to communicate with lawyers: State to HC
Maharashtra government and prison and correctional home authorities informed the Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday that inmates would have access to email communication with their respective lawyers with prior permission from the superintendent of a jail apart from the existing calling facilities.
Email access is a part of the modified draft guidelines prepared by the state authorities as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak among inmates and jail staff.
A two-member division bench of the court, comprising chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice MS Karnik, while hearing a clutch of public interest litigations (PILs) via video-conference was informed that the email access to inmates have been included after considering the petitioners’ recommendations.
Maharashtra advocate-general (A-G) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, who was assisted by additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan, informed the bench that the modified draft guidelines were consistent with the periodic recommendations being made by both the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the state health department authorities.
The A-G said all recommendations, pertaining to precautionary measures against Covid-19 for inmates and jail staff, have been incorporated in the modified draft guidelines.
He, however, clarified that the recommendations made by senior advocate Mihir Desai on behalf of the petitioner, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), related to prison reforms were not considered by the state government, as the Supreme Court (SC) is looking into the matter.
The court was also informed that postal correspondence with prisoners would also be permitted in the non-containment zones, where such services are operational.
The modified draft guidelines stated that an inmate’s family members would be informed within 48 hours if the prisoner tests Covid-19 positive and the inmate would be shifted to a makeshift quarantine centre inside a jail for further treatment.
The bench went through the modified draft guidelines and directed the petitioners to submit their suggestions and objections before the next date of the hearing of the case on Friday.