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NHRC directs Gujarat govt to screen inmates every six months for TB, provide timely treatment to TB patients

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday, taking cognisance of a large number of TB patients in Lajpore Central Prison of Surat, recommended the DG Prisons, Government of Gujarat, to screen inmates every six months for TB and HIV/AIDS and provide them timely treatment, so as to check the spread of the disease.

The Commission further asked the prison authorities to increase the staff strength of various personnel in the prison, including the Hospital, besides filling up the vacancies existing in Jail at the earliest.

NHRC also recommended the Government to consider on priority basis, commutation of sentence for terminally-ill patients. It said for commuting the sentence, the government should consider all the cases as provided under Section 433 CrPC, rather than only cases falling under Section 433 A CrPC.

The directions of the Commission follow the visit by its team to the prison led by member Jyotika Kalra for an on-the-spot assessment of facilities in the prison, in the wake of Magisterial Enquiry Report observing that there were complaints of several inmates having TB and lack of medical care, while enquiring into the death of a 21-year-old undertrial prisoner, due to pulmonary TB.

The inmate was healthy at the time of entry into the prison on April 27, 2019 and died on July 15, 2020.

The Commission further said that focus should be on the initial health screening of every inmate at the time of his admission or entry to the jail, as per the format prescribed by NHRC. Besides the ECG and diabetes tests at the time of initial screening, the multi-drug resistant inmates should be kept separate from non drug-resistant inmates, it added.

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The Commission asked the Registrar, Gujarat High Court, to ensure high speed network before conducting proceedings from jail and at the stage of examination of witnesses, the inmates must be called from the Prison so that they can assist their Counsel in cross examination.

Further on litigation side, it has been recommended to provide senior lawyers from the Legal Service Authority to represent the accused booked under heinous crimes and involve Law students to assist the Legal Aid lawyers, it added.

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