Submit health report of Covid-19 positive inmates, precautionary measures taken by May 26: HC to stateUpdated: May 20, 2020 18:10 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) has directed the Maharashtra government to submit a comprehensive report, on the health status of prisoners who contracted Covid-19 and precautionary measures taken by various prisons and correction homes in the state, by May 26. This comes after three public interest litigations (PILs) relating to alleged lack of facilities and proper treatment of prisoners were heard by the court on Tuesday.
The petitioners sought directions to the state and prison authorities to provide a report regarding the health and Covid status of the inmates to family members and advocates, and what precautionary measures were being taken for prisoners above 50 years of age, women with children, pregnant women, prisoners with pre-existing health conditions and disabilities, and others. The court directed the state to file a composite comprehensive report covering the aspects raised till May 26, after which it will pass further orders.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice S S Shinde, while hearing the PILs filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), an NGO; Geeta Jain, a politician from Mira-Bhayandar and Archana Rupwate, an activist and lawyer, through video conferencing on Tuesday was informed that since news of inmates contracting Covid-19 in some of the state prisons came to light, their families and advocates were worried about their well-being.
The petitioners submitted through their respective lawyers--senior advocate Mihir Desai for PUCL, advocate Sunny Punamiya for Jain and advocate Afreen Khan for Rupwate--that as the authorities were not divulging any information nor any list of inmates undergoing treatment has been released, they should provide the prisoners “frequent opportunities to communicate with their family members, friends and lawyers via phone calls or video conferencing without any charge irrespective of the nature of the offence or custody.”
The petitioners also submitted a list of facilities to be put in place to safeguard other non-infected prisoners.
The bench directed the state through public prosecutor Deepak Thakare and assistant public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde to place “A composite comprehensive report touching upon all the aspects raised in the three PIL petitions as well as indicating measures taken so far” before it on May 26, 2020. The court also directed that the report “ought to indicate the names and particulars of under trial prisoners/convicts who have been tested and found to be Covid-19 positive.”
The bench stated that after perusing the report it would pass further orders and posted the matter for hearing on May 26.