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Delhi HC sends plea seeking COVID-19 vaccine for jail staff, prisoners to division bench

ANI | Updated: Feb 17, 2021 17:14 IST

New Delhi [India], February 17 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sent to the Division Bench, a plea filed by a female convict moving the High Court seeking COVID-19 vaccine for jail staff, security persons and all prisoners lodged in Delhi jails.
A single-judge Bench of Justice Anu Malhotra sent the matter to Division Bench, noting that a separate petition raising similar kind of issue is pending there.
A female life convict sought direction to ensure COVID-19 vaccination for jail staff, security persons and all prisoners lodged in Delhi jails in the larger interest of prisoners and jail administration.

Sharda Jain, the petitioner, aged about 63 years old convicted and sentenced to undergo for life under Section 302 read with 120B, 364 r/w 120 B IPC.
The plea states that, DG Prison, Tihar recently had directed all the prisoners to surrender on their due dates with effect from February 7, 2021. So the petitioner seeking court intervention and directions to the respondents to vaccinate all the convicts before directing them to surrender.
The petitioner through Advocate Amit Sahni stated that there are over 18,000 prisoners against the total capacity of 10,000 prisoners in Tihar Jail, it is one of the most crowded prison complexes in the country and, therefore, it is humanly impossible to maintain social distancing and adhere to COVID-19 guidelines for containment as issued by Ministry of Home Affairs at such crowded places.
The plea mentioned that the state has an obligation to preserve life whether he is an innocent person or criminal liable to punishment under the law. With specific reference to health, the right to conditions, adequate for the health and well-being of all was already recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) furthermore stated that the prisoners have a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
It also added that the imprisonment does not "spell farewell to the fundamental rights." Thus, all fundamental rights available to ordinary citizens are also available to prisoners, albeit with some restrictions in their exercise due to imprisonment of the latter. The right to healthcare facilities forms an essential part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and not providing proper health care facilities to prisoners would lead to a violation of their fundamental rights, thereby attracting the remedy of the courts. (ANI)