Prison inmates to be screened daily for Covid symptoms: State to HC
Maharashtra government and the state’s prison and correctional home authorities on Friday informed the Bombay high court (HC), which had earlier expressed its displeasure and concern about the inmates’ “sorry state of affairs” amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, that all prisoners’ and jail staff’s body temperature, pulse and other vital parameters would be checked on a daily basis along with other precautionary measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The court was also informed that if the situation demands, then 36 jails and correctional centres across 27 districts in the state would be converted into dedicated Covid-19 care facilities for a temporary basis.
The court has asked the four petitioner bodies to give their suggestions on the next date of the hearing of the case on Tuesday (June 23).
Earlier, a two-member division bench of the HC, comprising chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice KK Tated, while hearing the public interest litigations (PILs) filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) – the largest and the oldest human rights organisations in the country – and three other outfits regarding the deplorable plight of prisoners in jails that led to the death of four undertrials due to Covid-19, was assured by the state government that several preventive measures are being taken for the welfare and well-being of the inmates and the prison staff.
Maharashtra advocate-general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted a draft of the modified rules before the court, which stated that initially, arrangements are being made to convert prisons in 24 districts into dedicated Covid-19 care facilities to treat symptomatic inmates and jail staff.
The draft said all those inmates and prison staff, who are running temperatures over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, would be shifted to these centres, and also made to undergo Covid-19 tests.
Kumbhakoni said that efforts were on to implement the periodic guidelines issued by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW), and other central and state authorities.
He also informed the court that the arrangements were being made to convert more prisons into dedicated Covid-19 care facilities.
The state government also submitted before the court a list of senior citizen inmates and assured special medical care for them because of their co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure, hypertension, cancer, heart condition, etc.