New Delhi: The Delhi High Court was today told that due to a large number of undertrials cramped in unhygienic conditions, they are being affected by numerous diseases in the jail premises.
"As per responses received from some of the RTIs filed by the petitioners and their associates it has been revealed that tuberculosis and other contagious diseases like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, typhoid, etc. Are common in Tihar jail premises," the written submission filed before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw states.
The written suggestion and information with regard to the condition in the jail was sought by the high court from Delhi government and an NGO, Multi Action Research Group(MARG), while hearing a Public Interest Litigations relating to ensuring minimum human rights to inmates of Tihar Jail.
The bench had sought suggestions from senior advocate Colin Gonsalves in another petition pertaining to the death of an undertrial, lodged in Tihar, due to malnutrition.
Following the court's direction, Gonsalves told the court that the "persons suffering from serious diseases are mostly from a lower socio-economic background and do not have the means to afford treatment.
"As a result, they are left at the mercy of the prison administration," he added.
MARG also suggested that the prison staff found to be
involved in allegations of beatings, harassment and torture of the inmates should be dealt with severely so as to avoid untoward incidents inside the prison complex.
"Further, Tihar jail being a central prison and also Asia's biggest prison housing about 13,000-14,000 inmates as against a sanctioned capacity of 5000-6000 inmates and comprises 10 sub-jails, it is imperative that each jail should have a separate board of visitors and each jail should be visited by at least one member every month and board of visitors visit every quarter.
"That one board of visitor for 10 prisons will virtually make the function of board of visitors an eyewash as a visit for the board of visitors for one jail would be only once in 3 years, instead of once in 3 months. Hence it is requested that visitors board ought to be appointed for each of the 10 jails of Tihar separately," MARG in its suggestion filed through advocate Ritu Kumar said.
It further said that their should be a committee headed by retired high court judge.
"The committee can identify the corrupt officials who are behind beatings, harassment and torture of inmates and the supply of sharp instruments and drugs in exchange for some money, and strict penal and disciplinary action be taken against such officials," the advocate said.
There should be transfer of jail official on regular basis, from one prison complex to another, so as to avoid any illegal practices by long-term continuation of officers in one jail complex, it said.
The suggestion also includes appointment of persons with
relevant background and experience as non-official visitors, including reputed social activists, people connected with the news media, lady social workers, jurists, retired public officers from the judiciary as also the executive as visitors.
"Create a roster for visits by the members of the visitors board so that at least one official and one non-official visitor visits each of the ten jails in Delhi at least once a month.
"Ensure that quarterly reports of the visits of the visitors Board are put on the website of Tihar jail," it added.
In the matter pertaining to the death of an inmate, who died in custody on February 25, 2012 due to medical negligence, the petitioner sought a direction to the SHO, Tilak Nagar Police Station, to register an FIR against the Senior Medical Officer and the then Superintendent of Jail No. 4 for the acts of criminal negligence as set out in the report of the district judge.
The advocate also said the information of all deaths occurring in Tihar jails, along with the inquest panchnama, the cause of death certificate, the post-mortem report and action taken report shall be sent by the Jail Superintendent / officer in charge of the jail/prison/hospital where such death occurs to this court.