The Delhi High Court has issued a slew of directions in response to a petition filed by undertrials lodged in Tihar Jail seeking certain facilities amidst the Covid crisis.
The Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh gave directions on the petition filed by Natasha Narwal, on issues of tele-calling, vaccination of inmates, as also e-mulaqaats, monthly calling charges and intermingling. The bench had sought the state’s response on the same and upon perusal of the same as well as the submission of the petitioners, the court issued certain directions
The state informed the court that calling facilities were made available in all 3 wards including recovery ward, isolation ward and quarantine ward. However, the petitioners informed the court that there were restrictions on these calling facilities such as calls can only be made to postpaid numbers and not prepaid ones. The court thus waived off this requirement allowing calls to prepaid numbers so long as the number to which the said call being made is verified, and the person who is receiving the call is verified in some manner, to be a close relative of the inmate concerned.
Further, inmates in recovery/isolation/Covid-19 positive wards will be allowed daily calls for 5 minutes to allow them to update their family of their health. The court ordered that these directions be made operational within 2-3 days.
The court was informed that in the 45+ age group, 12 inmates have been vaccinated while the jail authority has received 136 doses. The non-administration of vaccine to the others was due to hesitance in the inmates to get vaccinated, non-availability of identity cards such as Aadhaar Card, PAN Card, and the non-availability of a mobile number which is to be put in the CoWIN portal.
The court stressed upon the necessity of vaccination considering the density of jail premises and directed the Jail Superintendent to give proper counselling to inmates for receiving the vaccine. The court directed that in absence of Aadhaar or PAN Card, Prison ID number may be used and in absence of mobile number of the inmate, number of a next of kin may be used.
The jail authorities ensured the court that all in the 45+ age group will be inoculated by May 31.
On the issue of vaccination of the 18-44 age group, the jail had not received vaccines so the court directed the Jail Superintendent to make a request within 2 days to the Disaster Management Office (West) which shall be forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs. “The request of the Jail Superintendent shall be considered expeditiously, and the requisite vaccines shall be supplied within a period of 15-30 days, for the purpose of vaccination of the said group of 279 inmates who belong to the 18-44 age group,” the order stated.
The court directed that e-mulaqaats or video-conference should be allowed for inmates for half an hour once a week.
Monthly calling charges and intermingling
The court was informed that monthly calling charges have been waived off by jail authorities until May 31. Further, intermingling of the isolated/recovering Covid-19 positive patient is being completely avoided, and separate water facilities and other common facilities are being made available through dedicated staff to the recovery, Covid positive and isolation wards, the court was informed.
The court stated that directions with respect to remaining issues will be taken up on the next date of hearing, May 24. The court also directed that video-conferencing of the petitioners from jail should be allowed so that they can attend the next hearing.
The complete order may be read here:
Courtesy: Sabrang India