Arthur Road Jail
Arthur Road Jail
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[COVID-19 Pandemic] Even while incarcerated, jail inmates equally enjoy the right to life as those in the outside world: Bombay High Court

The Court was hearing a bail application moved in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shruti Mahajan

The Bombay High Court on Friday, observed that even jail inmates while incarcerated enjoy the right to life equally as people in the outside world.

The single Judge Bench of Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing a bail application moved in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The applicant had sought temporary bail on the grounds that he is a patient of chronic diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure and, therefore, more vulnerable to COVID-19.

The applicant is lodged at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai where over 100 persons, including prisoners and staff members, have tested positive for the contagion, the Court was informed.

Finding that there was no imminent health impediment is reflected in the case of the bail applicant, his bail plea came to be rejected by the Court.

All the same, Justice Dangre observed that it is incumbent upon the jail authorities to ensure the safety of the inmates lodged in the prison and to guard against them contracting the virus.

"It is for the Authorities to arrange for their affairs and to ensure that the inmates who are presently housed in the Jail are not infected by the virus on account of over-crowding in jails and not be reminded of Right of Inmates of a safe and healthy environment as even while incarceration they equally enjoy right to life as those in outside world (sic)."
Bombay High Court

The application in the instant case was rejected since it was argued not on merits but citing the pandemic.

The Court observed that the release of prisoners to prevent over-crowding in the prisons is a policy decision that needs to be taken by the State government.

However, the Court expressed hope that the prison authorities would take necessary steps for safety of the inmates.

"There is always a hope and expectation that the jail authorities are sensitive to the aforesaid situation and would take appropriate steps."
the Court observed.

The Court said that there are many prisoners over the age of 60 languishing in the jail and who are more prone to the virus, owing to their age and medical conditions.

In such circumstances, it would be open for the State government and jail authorities to take steps to tackle the situation pertaining to the spread of the virus, the Court said.

Read Order:

Akbar Ali Shroff vs Maharashtra.pdf
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