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"Number Of Prisoners Being Inoculated Be Drastically Increased": Uttarakhand High Court Issues Direction On Prisoners

Sparsh Upadhyay
7 May 2021 5:25 AM GMT
Number Of Prisoners Being Inoculated Be Drastically Increased: Uttarakhand High Court Issues Direction On Prisoners
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Dealing with a PIL filed regarding the state of prisoners amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday (May 6) issued a slew of directions.The Bench of Conditions issued the following directions:The Jail Department and the Principal Secretary, Home / Prison, State of Uttarakhand, are directed to ensure that the number of the prisoners being inoculated is...

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Dealing with a PIL filed regarding the state of prisoners amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday (May 6) issued a slew of directions.

The Bench of Conditions issued the following directions:

  • The Jail Department and the Principal Secretary, Home / Prison, State of Uttarakhand, are directed to ensure that the number of the prisoners being inoculated is drastically increased.
  • In fact, since most of the prisoners would be above the age of eighteen years, the inoculation of prisoners must be ensured by the State Government as expeditiously as possible, and preferably within one month from the date of this order.
  • When a prisoner is being released, he must be subjected to a Rapid Antigen Test /RT-PCR test in order to ensure that he does not leave the jail premises as a Covid-19 positive case. For, there are great chances that such a prisoner, who is being released, may carry the virus with him, and may infect his family, in particular, and the society, in general.
  • The High Powered Committee is directed to convene its meeting within a period of two weeks, and to review the cases of under-trial prisoners and the case of those, who have been convicted for offences punishable for less than seven years.
  • It shall make its recommendations within two weeks from its meeting, since there is a possibility that this pandemic may continue for many months to come and since there are reports which show that India may face the third wave of Covid-19, which may continue even in the next year.
  • The High Powered Committee is directed to meet once every month, and to review the cases of the present inmates, and to make its necessary recommendations.
  • The learned I.G. Prison is directed to inform the Chairman, Bar Council of Uttarakhand about the existence of the "E-Mulakaat" portal.
  • Furthermore, he is directed to ensure that sufficient hardware and software is available in the jails so as to permit the prisoners to converse with their counsel through the "EMulakaat" portal.
  • The counsel for the State is directed to file a detailed report with regard to the implementation of the directions issued by this Court within a period of three weeks.
Submissions of the IG, Prison

It was informed to the Court that there are 6,647 inmates, who are housed in different jails throughout the State. Out of these 6,647 inmates, 4,474 are under-trials prisoners, while 2173 are convicted prisoners. 

According to IG, Prison, as of 04th May 2021, the prisoners have been subjected to Rapid Antigen Tests / RT-PCR Tests; and so far, fifty-nine inmates have been found to be Covid-19 positive. Out of these fifty-nine Covid-19 positive prisoners, fifty-eight are asymptomatic, and only a single prisoner has exhibited mild symptoms.

Furthermore, out of these 6,647 inmates, so far only 122 inmates have been inoculated. Considering the small number of inmates, who have been inoculated, IG, Prison claimed that he had written to the District Magistrates requesting them to increase the number of inoculation in the jails, however, the District Magistrates have not responded enthusiastically.

He further informed this Court that in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court, a High Powered Committee was constituted by the Uttarakhand State Legal Services Authority and it Committee had met in September-October, 2020.

Till September-October, 2020, it had recommended 891 cases. In 725, it had made recommendations for the release of prisoners.

Lastly, it was added that since October, 2020, the said Committee had not met so far. Therefore, presently, it was submitted, there was neither any recommendation nor any prisoner is being released by the Jail Department.

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