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Judiciary

Delhi High Court issues Orders to encourage Tihar Inmates to get vaccinated, Extend Daily Calling Facilities, and Allow E-Mulaqats

By Arpit Chauhan      08 May, 2021 04:31 PM      0 Comments
Delhi hc Tihar Jail Covid Vaccination

The Delhi High Court released a slew of directions on Wednesday (May 5, 2021) in response to a petition filed by under-trial prisoners currently incarcerated in the Central Jail-6 Tihar, demanding certain directions for the provision of certain facilities in the jail.

On Monday (May 3, 2021), the Bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh sought the Government's response on the issues of tele-calling facilities in the prison, vaccination of prisoners, as well as e-mulaqaats, monthly calling charges, and intermingling issues.

The Government Counsel submitted responses to the Court in accordance with the Court's May 3 Order. Following a hearing with counsel representing the sides, the following directives were issued:

Tele-calling Facilities

The Court expressed worry about the inmates who are allowed to make these calls. Daily calling services are only available to prisoners who have verified their biometric information. It was also said that the daily calling services are only open to post-paid numbers.

Considering the current situation of the pandemic, the Court ordered thus:

"Where a large number of families seem to be affected, the daily calling facilities would henceforth be extended, during the current second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, even 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."

Furthermore, in the case of inmates in recovery/isolation/COVID-19 positive wards, the Court ordered that regular calling be allowed for a maximum of 5 minutes for these inmates, as they would like to inform their family members on their medical status.

 

Vaccination of inmates

Vaccines for prisoners 45 and older are also accessible and on the Jail Superintendent's desk. The Court requested that appropriate counselling be made available.

Given the high density of inmates in the prison and the fact that vaccination was nearly mandatory for all inmates, the Court issued an order, “If an identity card, in the form of an Aadhar card or a PAN Card is not available, the Prison ID number may be used as the identification number, for being put on the concerned portal/App. Insofar as the mobile number is concerned, if the inmate himself or herself does not have a mobile number, he or she is permitted to use the mobile number of a close relative, like a parent or a sibling or child, for the purpose of registration for the vaccine."

The Prison Authorities assured the Court that all the 136 inmates, who are 45+ years of age, would be vaccinated by 31st May, 2021. The Court directed the Jail Superintendent to make a request, within a period of 48 hours, to the Disaster Management Office.

"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 Court further ordered.

 

E-Mulaqaats

The Court ordered that the Jail Authorities allow all inmates to participate in e-mulaqaats for at least half an hour per week. Monthly calling charges have been waived until May 31, 2021. Further mixing of the isolated/recovering COVID-19 positive patient was strictly prohibited.

Finally, the Court stated that the pending concerns will be addressed on the next date of hearing, which is May 24, 2021, and that the Jail Superintendent has been ordered to prepare for video-conferencing services so that the Petitioners can attend the Court from jail.



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