Karnataka High Court
Karnataka High Court
Litigation News

Karnataka HC questions State on COVID-19 testing and prevention facilities for prisoners, number of positive cases in prisons

The plea before the High Court claims that the jail authorities have not provided separate isolation cells for prisoners with COVID-19 symptoms.

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday questioned the state government on the various facilities available in prisons for treating COVID-19 patients.

This apart, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay S Oka asked the State to place the following on record:

  • Number of positive COVID-19 cases detected in every prison in the state

  • Whether proper facilities for isolation cells are available in prisons

  • Whether regular check ups are being conducted in all prisons with regard to the existence of symptoms of COVID-19 for prison inmates

  • Whether there is any policy to test the undertrial or convicted prisoners who are bought to prisons to ensure that there are tested for COVID-19

  • The state government has to ensure whether the prisoners who enter the prison are quarantined for a particular period.

Petitioner Amol Kale, currently in Mysore Jail, stated that he has various symptoms of COVID-19. He contended that jail authorities are not providing COVID test facilities to prisoners with symptoms. Due to this, the number of COVID-19 positive patients in Mysore Jail are increasing rapidly, he claimed.

The plea also relied on the Supreme Court order dated March 23, in which the Apex Court had given several directions for the decongestion of prisons and to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in jails.

The petition states,

"That, in the wake of COVID-19, there is a great need of decongesting of overcrowded prisons, correction centres, observation homes and places of safety. While the Apex Court has issued directions to release the prisoners on certain terms and conditions, it is equally imperative to proper safety for those prisoners who are inside the prisons."

Advocate for the petitioner, NP Amruthesh had written to the jail authorities multiple times to ensure proper medical facilities and check ups for jail inmates with COVID-19 symptoms. However, no reply was provided to the same.

Furthermore, the jail authorities have not provided separate isolation cells for prisoners with COVID-19 symptoms, who are quarantined inside the regular cell itself. This has not only created a feeling of insecurity and fear among the other non-affected jail prisoners, but has also accelerated the risk of their contracting the dangerous virus, avers the plea.

In view of the above circumstances, the plea prays for the following:

  • Direct Prison Authorities to comply with the Supreme Court order dated March 23.

  • Direct Authorities to protect the petitioner from COVID-19 by maintaining social distance and providing the nesscary medical aid.

  • Direct Authorities to keep COVID-19 prisoners in isolation cells outside the main jail and well as provide Vitamin C tablets and other ayurvedic medicines to patients.

The matter has been adjourned to September 31.

[Read plea here]

WP-Amol Kale v State of Karnataka.pdf
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