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Delhi High Court issues Covid guidelines for Tihar Jail inmates

Learned counsel for the respondents Mr. Narayan submitted that all facilities which are permissible for undertrial prisoners and convicts have been complied with and also there have been instructions given to him that in terms to the arguable statement of the short phone call, the quarantine wards has a dedicated staff and a cell phone to serve a purpose in order to ensure that the inmates are able to speak to their relative.

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ILNS: The Delhi High Court today issued certain guidelines and instructed to obtain details, with respect to the quarantined inmates in Tihar Jail, who have symptoms and quarantined inmate, who have been tested positive in the RT-PCR Test.

An application for urgent measures was filed by Delhi Riots accused Natasha Narwal related to the COVID-infected and quarantined inmates of central jail 6 Tihar, the women cell, who are under trial prisoners, seeking for regular set up E-mulaqats, and regular phone calls, informing the whereabouts of the inmates to their concerned relatives and vice versa, the application prayed for vaccination that ought to be given to the inmates owing to the current pandemic. 

The Counsel for Narwal even raised a doubt before the single Judge Bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh over the fact that how the jails been such a confined area, did not sufficiently vaccinate the inmates. 

Counsel for the respondents Narayan submitted that all facilities, which are permissible for undertrial prisoners and convicts, have been complied with and also there have been instructions given to him that in terms to the arguable statement of the short phone call, the quarantine wards have a dedicated staff and a cell phone to serve purpose in order to ensure that the inmates are able to speak to their relatives. 

However, the Counsel for the petitioner argued that the phone calls are relatively short and if there is no response from the other end, the inmate loses his/her chance to again have a phone call for the day. 

The Delhi High Court enquired the Counsel for the respondent as to how many vaccinations have been given till date since the last order, the Court seem surprised upon the revelation that only 12 vaccines were given to the inmates following the present guidelines of the government that vaccines may be given to people above 45 years of age.

The Court even remarked in the court proceeding, “this petition seems to be more of a public interest litigation,” but the Counsel of the petitioner supported his contention stating that he will strictly stick to his ambit.

The contention raised by the Counsel of the petitioner that many of the inmates do not have access to their Aadhaar Card, which is a pre-requisite document in order to get enrolled for vaccination, stated that the question whether the Aadhaar Card is mandatory for vaccination and alike concerns also been in raised in other state High Courts, for instance Bombay High Court

The Court stated that any identification proof works for the enrollment of vaccines and Aadhaar card is not mandatory. Even the standing counsel for the respondent mentioned his personal take over the ‘Cowin’ app and said that any kind of identity proof works for the enrollment as he himself got it enrolled.

However, the Counsel of the petitioner argued that many of the inmates do not have their Aadhaar card or other proofs, besides most of their relatives do not even know how to use smart phones or scan the documents, and since it is an extraordinarily tough time, thus the vaccine should be given, irrespective of whether or not this condition of having to have an identity proof is being fulfilled or not. 

Upon relying on the status report prepared the counsel for respondents stated that the families of the inmates have been contacted by Central Jail 6 officers daily. 

A separate mobile phone has been provided by the prison department on April 22 and a designated staff visits the COVID ward and inmates talk to their near and dear ones through this number. Hence, a daily channel of communication is opened up.

Read Also: Grave injustice against people: Why Customs clearance exemption for oxygen concentrators was given only for personal use? 

The Counsel for the petitioner mentioned the grievances of the petitioners, indicating that it is a biometric, which enables them to call on a daily basis, however inside quarantine centre, no such facility is there.

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