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Raj HC Takes Suo Motu Cognizance On Increasing COVID-19 Cases In Jails; Issues Directions

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The High Court of Rajasthan in a special sitting on Sunday issued a slew of directions to maintain high standards of care for jail inmates.

The bench comprising Justice Ashok Kumar Gaur and Justice Indrajit Mahanty took suo motu cognizance of the case on the basis of news reported in various news channels of Rajasthan on May 16, that “a huge number of approximately 55 prisoners, both convicts as well as under-trials at Jaipur District Jail were detected corona positive and the largest number out of them 48 infected persons were lodged in Central/District Jail, Jaipur.”

The matter was registered in the evening of May 16 and the Advocate General and Additional Chief Secretary and Director General of Prisons were informed that the matter would be taken up at 11.20 AM on May 17.

The Advocate General submitted a note relating to the measures taken to deal with the situation and the Additional Chief Secretary submitted that the State Government has created Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) dealing with the process of admission of an accused to the jails and the manner in which they are to be tested at the time of entry.

The Director General of Prisons informed the bench that “the jail authorities have taken special care for prevention and substantial work is being done towards cleanliness, which has resulted in substantial drop in Respiratory Tract Infections and skin diseases of inmates of jails in Rajasthan.”

The bench keeping in view the necessity to maintain high standards of care for the jail inmates, issued the following directions:

  1. State Government to incorporate for the COVID-19 SOP for jails the requirements of having an accused being tested by local medical authorities for corona virus and iffound negative, only then allow such accused person to be remanded to jail custody/police custody
  2. After the accused is tested prior to his/her entry into the jail premises or police custody, the accused according to the SOP has to spend a period of 21 days in Isolation Ward segregated separately from the General Ward for inhabitants of the jails. The jail authorities must ensure that prior to releasing such prisoners from isolation, they must be once again presented before the local medical authorities for check up again to verify whether that prisoner has developed any symptom of corona virus and also carry out RT-PCR test to cover also possible asymptomatic prisoner, and thereafter shift the prisoner or under trial to the General Ward
  3. The jail authorities who are in direct contact with such prisoners in isolation also require special attention to ensure that such virus is not transmitted to them or their families and authorities will ensure test of jail staff and their family members on a regular random basis, at least fortnightly
  4. The medical officers of each district shall inspect the Isolation Wards in the jails and suggest the jail authorities to take out whatever steps may be necessary for maintaining cleanliness and sanitization necessary for keeping such persons in the Isolation Wards.
  5. Jail doctors must be made available for checking the prisoners in Isolation Wards for their general checkup on day-today basis. The jail doctors shall ensure visit to the Isolation Wards and checkup of the prisoners in such wards everyday and record the same.

For compliance of the above directions the bench directed to constitute committees which shall visit each jail within their respective districts and verify the status of each jail and submit a report before member Secretary, RSLSA on or before May 22.

The Member Secretary has been directed to collate the reports in a concise manner and to be submitted before the Court by May 26.

The matter has been listed for next hearing on May 27.

Read the full order here;

HC_SUO_MOTO_ORDER

-India Legal Bureau

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