In a high powered committee meeting held on April 3, Chaired by Justice Aravind Kumar, High Court of Karnataka & Executive Chairman, Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, for effective implementation of directions issued by Supreme Court, to decongest prisons, it was informed that interim bail was granted to 606, under trial prisoners (UTPs) across the state till April 2 and total of 230 convicts, were released on parole.
The Director General of Prisons informed the committee about the fax message sent to Inspector General of Police, Northern Range, Belagavi. Deputy Commissioner, Vijayapura District. Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru City. Superintendent of Police, Vijayapura, Bagalkot and Belagavi. DIG, Prisons, Northern Range, Belagavi. Chief Superintendents/Superintendent-Central PrisonBelagavi, Vijayapura, Bagalkot and Sub-Jail, Jamkhandi. To shift 175 UTP lodged in Central Jail, Vijayapura, to be shifted to various prisons in the State. Likewise, UTPs who are 50 in number, in Central Prison, Mysore have been ordered to be shifted. These measures have been taken by the State authorities to decongest the over-crowded prisons and as a preventive step towards the spread of coronavirus in the prisons.
DGP Prisons stated that in 9 Central Prisons, 21 District Prisons and 15 Taluk/Revenue Prisons in the State, Medical Staff which has been sanctioned is not filled and as such, has requested the State authorities should be directed to fill up the posts immediately in order to ensure that all reasonable steps can be taken by the Prison authorities to check and prevent COVID-19 in the prisons. Hence, the Committee recommended to the State authorities to take immediate steps for appointment of the posts which have remained vacant by taking all reasonable steps in the light of prevailing situation in the State.
Director General (Prisons and Correctional Services) placed on record the circular dated 02.04.2020 whereunder Nodal Medical Institutions have been identified for shifting of prison inmates in case of any possibility of COVID-19 infection being detected in any of the prisoners, in compliance of direction/observation of Hon'ble Apex Court in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) 1/2020 dated 23.03.2020.
The Committee said the Health and Family Welfare Department should ensure that immediate steps are taken in this regard immediately as and when brought to its notice by the prison authorities. State Administration shall ensure that in respect of those prisons where there is no Medical Officer available as on date, a Doctor is deputed from the respective District to visit the prison at least once in a day for conducting routine medical check up of inmates of the prison until further directions.
The Executive Chairman, KSLSA consulted, interacted and under the guidance of Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar, of Supreme Court of India, who is the guardian to look after the implementation of the Legal Services Programme in the State of Karnataka said following steps have been taken on health issues arising out of CoronaVirus (COVID-19).
(a) Health Check up of all prisoners (UTPs and convicts) have been undertaken in all the prisons of the State with the monitoring by respective Chairman and Member Secretary, DLSA and TLSC.
(b) Face masks manufactured in all the Central Prisons in Karnataka are being supplied to the District Prisons and Taluk prisons to both personal staff and prisoners as a preventive measure is being monitored by respective DLSA and TLSC.
(c) Respective DLSA and TLSC across the State are coordinating with the State authorities for ensuring proper and timely supply of food or food grains to the workers-labourers who are stationed in schools, colleges and choultries by the State administration on a temporary basis and the same is being monitored.
(d) In all the Taluks, Para Legal Volunteers have undertaken creating awareness about CoronaVirus (COVID-19) both preventive and steps to be taken in case of suspected patients by moving in an auto rickshaw with loudspeaker wherein recorded messages are being intimated.
(e) DLSA & TLSCs are also undertaking distribution of food grains to the needy through permitted transport vehicles.
(f) At village level, Tom Tom services are being implemented highlighting the imminent necessity of norms for lock down being followed strictly.
(g) Posters depicting details of preventive measures of spreading of COVID-19, social distancing etc. are being publicized by affixing said posters at village Chavadi and at conspicuous places.
(h) Whatsapp messages of these posters have been forwarded to Para Legal Volunteers and panel advocates for being further forwarded to such groups with whom they are in contact.
(i) Member Secretary, DLSA and TLSC with the coordination of State administration, are taking following steps:
(i) Ensuring immediate assistance is extended to the victims of CoronaVirus.
(ii) To coordinate the activities of different departments of the Government and the NGOs for bringing immediate relief.
(iii) To supervise the distribution of relief materials such as hand sanitizers, masks, hand gloves etc.
(iv) To ensure providing of food and water to the stranded workers and labourers.
(v) To ensure proper treatment is being extended to the victims and to coordinate with the District authorities.
(vi) To supervise Health care, Sanitation and take steps for preventing the spread of epidemics.
(j) At the request made by ISKCON through Chair Person, Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, about 50 Para Legal Volunteers have been deployed for packing of grocery materials for being distributed to the needy.
(k) KSLSA has opened up 24 x 7 Helpline Service for the needy of COVID-19 and in the District of Tumkur, Help Line services are being provided in the entire district.
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