The most precious fundamental 'right to life' unconditionally embraces even an undertrial, the Supreme Court observed while directing to shift Kerala journalist Sidhique Kappan from Mathura Jail in Uttar Pradesh to a Government hospital in Delhi for medical treatment.
The bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and AS Bopanna observed thus in the order passed in a habeas corpus petition filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists(KUWJ) seeking Kappan's release.
While considering the plea, the court noted from the Medical Report submitted before it that Kappan had tested COVID-19 Positive on 21st April, 2021, was having fever (T-102F) and had also suffered an injury as he fainted and fell down in the bathroom for which intervention of a surgeon was suggested. It was stated therein that he is having multiple health issues like diabetes, heart ailment, blood pressure and bodily injury. However, the next set of medical reports and the additional affidavit circulated by the State this morning show that he has tested COVID-19 Negative, the court noted.
"We are of the view that owing to the apparent precarious health condition of the arrestee, it is necessary to provide adequate and effective medical assistance to him and to allay all apprehension relating to his health, it would be in the interest of justice to shift Sidhique Kappan – the arrestee, either to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital or to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) or any other Government Hospital in Delhi for the proper medical treatment. The needful shall in this regard be done at the earliest.", the court observed.
Regarding the submission made by the Solicitor General that adequate medical treatment is being provided as in the case of all other jail inmates and if need be further facility shall be extended to the arrestee, the bench observed thus:
"We state that the most precious fundamental 'right to life' unconditionally embraces even an undertrial. The consideration made herein is keeping in view the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case. Merely because the other jail inmates are receiving treatment similar to the arrestee need not deter us."
After his recovery, he has to be sent back to Mathura jail, where he is under custody in a UAPA case on the allegation that he was trying to create communal unrest in UP after the Hathras gang rape-murder crime, the court ordered.
Case: Kerala Union of Working Journalists vs. Union of India [ WP (Crl.) 307 OF 2020]Coram: CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and AS BopannaCounsel: Adv Wills Mathews, SG Tushar MehtaCitation: LL 2021 SC 234