A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking directions to decongest Delhi Prisons in the wake of recent surge in Covid 19 cases in the national capital and also prays for mandatory RTPCR testing for prisoners and inmates of the jails.
The petition has been filed by Advocates Kanhaiya Singhal and Rishabh Jain seeking benefit of Prisoners which are being held in the Central Jails of Delhi who are devoid of medical assistance and adequate safeguards against the lethal covid 19 virus.
"The ground reality of the situation is far worse than that reported since there have been many cases of Covid-19 which have still not been reported or which are yet to be reported. In this category, a major portion is also occupied by persons/ human beings/ citizens suffering incarceration in the Central Jails of Delhi. At this juncture it is again brought on record the factum that the prison population majorly consists of the undertrial prisoners who have not been convicted yet and might not even be guilty of the offence for which they are being accused." The plea states.
The respondents in the matter are GNCTD, Director General of Prison and the High Court of Delhi through its Registrar General.
Relying on an article titled "Under-trial prisoner of Tihar Jail dies of COVID-19" dated 27.04.21 published by India TV news highlighting that there have been three reported death of coronavirus-infected prison inmates in Delhi, the plea states thus:
"It is learnt that one of such reasons for the spread of coronavirus is that the Central Jail No.4 can house about 1000 prisoners, however, it is housing about 3500 prisoners as on today. This poses a serious threat not only for the prison inmates, but an even more serious one for the prison staff authorities. Similarly, Central Jail No. 1 can house around 850 prisoners whereas at present, there are about 2500 prisoners in the said jail. There is no space between the beds and thus, there cannot be any adherence to the 6 feet distance rule."
During the course of hearing today before the division bench comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh, Advocate Singhal apprised the Bench that the issue of release of prisoners due to halt of trials as well as to decongest the jail was required.
In view of this, Mr. Kawaljeet Arora, Secretary of DSLSA informed the Court that the HPC meeting is going to be convened today at 6 pm for dealing with the aforesaid issue. The matters are now likely to be listed for further hearing on May 13.
The petition seeks the following prayers:
- Issue appropriate writ, order and/or direction/s to respondent no. 1 & 2 for mandatory RT-PCR test of prisoners/ inmates lodged in Jails of Delhi.
- Direct the respondent no. 1 & 2 to set up a non-covid medical facility with necessary medical equipment and medical staff for the treatment of non-covid jail patients.
- Issue appropriate directions for the de-congestion of Delhi Prisons in light of submissions made in the present petition.
- Issue or pass any writ, direction or order, which this Hon'ble court may deem fit and proper under the facts and circumstances of the case.