#BombayHighCourt to hear a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) case on the rise in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra prisons today.

Hearing before Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni.

#COVIDEmergency #maharashtralockdown #COVIDー19
Live updates of the previous hearing here: barandbench.com/news/litigatio…
Sr Adv Mihir Desai is the amicus curiae in the case.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to appear for State.

#COVIDEmergency #maharashtralockdown #COVIDー19 #BombayHighCourt
Hearing begins.
CJ: How many positive prisoners are there now?

AG: 244.

CJ: So it has gone up? From 188?

#CovidResources #COVIDEmergency #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt
AG: It was 241 when I filed affidavit.

He points out to the affidavit filed by the state.

CJ: what about suggestions by Mr. Desai?

AG: He gave us the suggestions before our affidavit. So his suggestions are more or less covered. If any more suggestions, we are open to that.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt
Adv Ranjeet Agashe appearing for an intervenor submits suggestions for granting of bail on merits by relying upon the considerations while granting bail to prisoners in #Australia.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt
CJ points out there is some difference in prison conditions of India and #Australia

Agashe submits this is only for persuasive value.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt
CJ: We see there are more jail staff positive getting positive now..
You have to do something for them, find some solution.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Professor Vijay Raghavan from TISS requests for an audience. He wants to submit some suggestions.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Court refers in the suggestion list tendered to them by Sr Adv Desai.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: Question comes where will they go once they come out.
It is about the execution.

AG: I have been told that convicts are very obedient, they want to finish their sentence and leave. It is very difficult to undertrial prisoners contrary to public belief.

AG: so for suggestions for undertrial prisoners, we have to take suggestions with a pinch of salt.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Desai: We have to consider three issues here.

First is decongestion, then health and then communication with lawyers and relatives.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Desai: There had 36 temporary prisons, they were planning to get more. They have only 13..

AG: No 21.

Desai: But that has to rise.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: But that is being followed. They will be taking steps now..

Desai: that is one. Another thing is, telephone facilties to be made available in temporary prisons.
It will have COVID+ prisoners. Their relatives will be anxious.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt
Desai: So they can ensure that communication is there in temporary prisons.

Another issue not related to this. Yesterday I went for my second dose of vaccine. The line was huge. No social distancing. People will get COVID by standing in the line.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra
CJ: that was the exact issue raised when we were hearing the door to door vaccine plea.

Desai: There were two queues, one for above 60 and one for above 70, both had huge lines.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Desai: I also want to point out suggestions for Taloja jail. Prisoners are using same mask as given a year back.

Vaccination camps could be organised in prison, that will be easier.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Desai: In respect of testing, though they say random testing, my information is there is hardly any testing happening in jails.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Desai: As far as the temporary bails are concerned, each case will be gone into merits no doubt, the high power committee’s drive has to be an ongoing process.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Desai: Because the figures are, there were over 2400 prisoners previously and now there are 3500. Forget decongestion, there is a rise in inmates.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Desai: Appointment of medical professionals is also low. They did not take steps in the last year, but maybe this year they can.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: Can vaccines be arranged in prisons for above 45 years?

AG: Initially they were following ICMR guidelines which say come to the centres where there are doctors and emergency services.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: But we persuaded them to bring doctors. But we managed to do it in three prisons. We could not do it in other because of two reasons. It is a pause not a cancellation. Reasons are lack of availability of vaccine and trained staff. There is pressure outside prison.
AG: But once that is sorted, we will conduct drives in the prisons. From jail authority point of view it is safer to vaccinate them in jail.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: and masks?

AG: No there has to be some misunderstanding. We manufacture our masks..But it can be recorded int he order that we will provide new masks more frequently.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: For communications, we have purchased new phones..

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: We have purchased 40 new phones. But every call has to be supervised and carefully monitored.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: Prisoners may talk to outsiders. There is threat.
But we will allow them to talk to relatives. No doubt about it.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: As far as testing is concerned, so far 64000 tests have been conducted, 4000 in the last week itself only for prisoners.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: But your current population is 35000

AG: Yes but that is including repeated tests and random tests we conduct.

We have conducted 4078 tests on the staff.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: And testing of symptomatic persons.

CJ: In the second wave how many police men have died?

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: In the second wave, 1 prison staff and 2 prisoners have died.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Justice Kulkarni: Mr. Desai pointed out as per Maharashtra Amendment of Prison rules, there has to be one Chief Medical officer, more medical officers, nursing staff, laboratory assistants, etc. What you have in Taloja are only 3 medical practitioners in Ayurveda.
AG: In Taloja we have 3 doctors.

Court: Ayurveda doctors..

AG: No no

Court: BAMS doctors..

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: Yes.

Court: So you have no specialists, nursing staff, laboratory assistants. This has to be looked into.

AG: I will make note and next time definitely see what can be done.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Court: And make them available this special mask, not the regular mask. Box of 100 is for Rs 300 rupees. And sanitisers.

AG: Definitely! We will do it.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Dr Vijay Raghavan from #TISS makes his broad suggestions. He is head of Centre for Criminology and Justice and head of organisation Prayas.

All steps are in the right directions. but two things I want to highlight is issue of over crowding and congestion.

Raghavan: Capacity is 23000 and today it is 35000. And this is after 10000 prisoners were released.
Solution lies with HPC meeting more regularly. Last they met is in 2020.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Raghavan: They can meet and take stock on category of prisoners for Temporary bail and emergency parole.

CJ: that is given already.

Raghavan: Stock has to be taken for surveillance and monitoring.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Raghavan: Undertrial review committee constituted by SC for undertrials released on bail or other ways. SC issued an SOP drafted by NALSAR, which identified 14 groups.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Raghavan: while they are meeting and identifying, they can only suggesting. The final decision remains with the local courts and magistrates.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
Raghavan: I am given to understand that those suggestions are not being considered by the trial courts. That can be looked into.

Another suggestion is testing and vaccination. Many prisoners do not have Aadhar card, so they cannot be vaccinated.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra
Raghavan: so the Court could issue directions for this.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: Aadhar suggestion even I agree with. I also have instructions on this.

CJ: So you are also seeking an order to that effect?

AG: Yes, but Mr. ASG had pointed out practical difficulties in the previous hearing about the identification issue.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra
Justice Kulkarni: Aadhar card is insisted upon for maintaining a national data. It is right also to ask for it.
Can there be something where the vaccination camp can only issue a card? But it is useful for maintaining data.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt
CJ: can there be some mechanism to identify whether some prisoner has Aadhar card or not? Let us say an accused is asked by the Magistrate whether he has Aadhar or not? And he says no, then what do you do about it?

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: As I am told, when people travel abroad, their biometric data is taken, so can some similar mechanism not be used for identifying people with Aadhar?

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: Also this issue will arise more as we have foreigners lodged in jails. They do not have Aadhar.

CJ: so then some solution has to be found out from the Centre too. This issue of Aadhar is pan India issue.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
AG: I am told we have written to the Centre. We are yet to get a response.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: Yes and you speak to the ASG too.

As far as the issue of parole and bail as per suggestions of HPC is concerned, please forward the SOP to us. We will see what can be done about it.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19
CJ: We will hear this matter on Tuesday now.

Hearing ends. Order will be passed in chambers.

#CovidResources #Maharashtra #BombayHighCourt #COVIDー19

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