HC asks Maharashtra Govt to ensure safety of Jail inmates from the COVID-19

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The Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra Government to ensure that Covid-19 does not spread any further in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail where 77 inmates and 26 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

Justice Bharati Dangre’s direction came on Friday while hearing a bail application on Friday filed by an inmate, Ali Akbar Shroff, citing medical reasons.

The prisoner had sought temporary bail claiming that he had become more vulnerable due to the spread of Covid-19 in Arthur Road jail.

The judge said that the authorities need not be reminded of the rights of inmates to safe and healthy environment and even while in incarceration they equally enjoy the right to life as those in the outside world.

Shroff’s counsel, senior advocate Abad Ponda pointed out that the 43-year-old is a chronic patient of diabetes, hyper-tension and high blood pressure. Ponda added that Shroff also has sinus problem and required constant medical treatment and supervision.

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This medical condition, according to the senior advocate, may prove fatal as persons suffering from hypertension and diabetes are considered more susceptible to coronavirus and therefore urged the court to release Shroff on temporary bail.

“The situation no doubt is precarious,” said Justice Dangre commenting on Ponda’s statement that several inmates of Arthur Road jail have tested positive for coronavirus. “If it is true that more than 100 patients have been tested positive in Arthur Road jail, it is for the authorities to arrange for their affairs and to ensure that the inmates presently housed in the jail are not infected by the virus.”

She, however, rejected the interim bail plea saying a number of aged inmates are presently languishing in jail although they are more prone to the virus, as compared to the present applicant. “Since no imminent health impediment is reflected in case of the present applicant, application is rejected,” she said.

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