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Delhi HC constitutes committee for improvement of health facilities in prison

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday formed a Committee headed by the Health Secretary of the Delhi Government to give suggestions to improve the healthcare facilities in prisons in the national capital, observing that every prison inmate has an inherent right to life and humane treatment.

This committee will give its suggestions within a month. Director General (Prisons), Chief Medical Officer of Delhi Prisons, two senior jail visiting judges of district courts, Secretary of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority as well as advocates Sanjay Dewan and Gayatri Puri will also be the committee's members.

The High Court passed the direction while delaying the interim bail applications of Amandeep Singh Dhall, seeking interim bail on medical grounds. He was arrested in the Delhi Excise Policy case.

However, the court did not grant interim bail to Dhall but directed the authorities to get him admitted to Safdarjung Hospital and provide proper care.

Justice Swarana Sharma ordered and said, "The Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of the NCT of Delhi, will constitute a committee."

This committee will be comprised of the Director General (Prisons), The CMO of the Delhi Prisons, two senior jail visiting judges, the Secretary, DSLSA, Advocate Sanjay Dewan and Gayatri Puri as its members, as the high court ordered on December 22.

Justice Sharma directed, "This committee will give suggestions regarding improving the health care facilities in the prisons and ways to promote equal health care to all prisoners within one month to this Court."

"The committee will also specifically inform the Court as to whether facilities are available in the jail hospital to deal with emergencies such as cardiac arrest, haemorrhages, etc. as the first few minutes in such eventuality are crucial to save life of a person, " Justice Sharma directed.

The High Court observes that the government of the NCT of Delhi is responsible for the management and maintenance of the prison premises. It is crucial to have an appropriate medical care system in prisons that meets the requirements of the inmate patients.

The high court issued several directions for the government to improve healthcare facilities at prisons.

The high court directed the Secretary (Home), Government of NCT of Delhi, and Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of NCT of Delhi, to ensure that the health care requirements of the prison inmates are met and adequate medical infrastructure in the jail premises is maintained to ensure the right of prisoners to appropriate medical care.

The court further directed the concerned doctors in charge of respective jail dispensaries to furnish the list of requirements for adequate medical equipment, which is essential for the medical care of the prison inmates, to the concerned Chief Medical Officers.

The Chief Medical Officers of all the prisons will submit a weekly report to the Director General of prisons, who will communicate this report to the Jail Visiting Judicial Officer or Judge concerned regarding inadequacies or urgent requirements in their respective jail hospital, or dispenser, including the working or non-working condition of the machines and medical equipment, availability of medicines, etc, the high court ordered.

The high court also directed that the weekly report prepared by the Chief Medical Officers of all the prisons also be sent to the Secretary (Home), Government of Delhi, and Secretary of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Delhi.

The bench said, "The issues so pointed out in the report mentioned, will be addressed and the necessary supplies, equipment, and medicines will be ensured to be provided within two days. The machines/medical equipment if not in order, will be repaired or a substitute will be provided immediately by the State."

The high court said, " This case serves as a reminder that the quality of medical care within correctional facilities must be held to high standards, with a focus on the well-being and rehabilitation of inmates. The State Government has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the healthcare needs of inmates are met with the same diligence and commitment as any other citizen."

The court also said that At this stage, this Court notes that the medical facilities available at the jail dispensary are not able to provide the medical treatment which is required by the applicant, as adviced by the doctors concerned in terms of post-epidural care after his spinal surgery.

"Thus, considering that at this stage, no immediate arrangement can be made by the jail dispensary to ensure appropriate medical care. of the applicant, this Court deems it fit, to ensure that a balance is struck between the right of the prisoners to appropriate medical care and the right of the State to ensure the rule of law, to allow the request of the applicant to get the required physiotherapy treatment at the Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi," the bench ordered. (ANI)

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