HC seeks AAP govt stand on pleas to vaccinate prisoners before they surrender

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New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Monday sought response of the AAP government on two pleas seeking vaccination of all the prisoners who were out on bail or parole before they surrender so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection inside prisons.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to the Delhi government seeking its stand on the pleas by March 26 and also asked it to take action on the issue 'immediately'.

Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra assured the bench that 'there was nothing to worry about as everything is under control'.

He also told the court that there has been 'no outbreak of COVID-19 in the jails'.

The bench directed the government to indicate in its affidavit steps it has already taken and what it proposes to take.

The court also remarked that the pleas appeared to be an excuse to keep the prisoners who were out on bail, parole or furlough, out for a longer duration.

The bench said when committing a crime or offence, such persons should know what all could happen when they are sent to jail by the courts.

One of the two petitions has been moved by a 63-year-old woman convict serving life imprisonment in a murder case who has sought that all prisoners, particularly those above 60 years who were out on bail, parole or furlough be vaccinated before their surrender.

In her plea, filed through advocate Amit Sahni, the woman has also sought vaccination of jail staff, security persons and all prisoners lodged in prisons in the national capital.

A similar plea has also been moved by four lawyers -- advocates Abhilasha Shrawat, Prabhash, Kartik Malhotra and Manav Narula -- seeking directions to the Delhi government to 'arrange and facilitate COVID-19 vaccination to all the prisoners who were out on bail'.

The two petitions have claimed that as on January 14, there were 16,396 inmates in the three prisons in Delhi which together have a capacity of 10,026 and therefore, there was not sufficient space for maintaining social distancing.

The petitioners have contended that with more prisoners scheduled to surrender in the coming days, there may not be sufficient space to keep them in quarantine for 14 days and therefore, it was necessary to vaccinate the prisoners who were out on bail, parole or furlough before lodging them back in the jail. PTI HMP SA