HC takes suo motu cognisance of rising COVID-19 cases in Maha jailsMumbai, Apr 16 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Friday took suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in prisons across Maharashtra and directed the state government to provide details about the number of infections among inmates and prison staff and their health status.

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A vacation bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and CV Bhadang also directed the state government to submit details of measures proposed as well as currently being taken to control the spread of the infection and to decongest prisons.

The bench, quoting recent newspaper reports, in its order noted that, till April 14, a total of 200 inmates in 47 prisons in the state had tested positive, the number having gone up from 42 to 200 within a month, besides 86 staffers.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, who appeared for the state, told the bench that in July last year, another bench of the court had taken up the issue of inmates contracting COVID-19 in prisons and issued a slew of guidelines to be followed, adding that the state would implement the same guidelines this time as well.

The HC however, said the issue required the court's intervention.

'The reports show a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases in state prisons, indicating a need for the court's intervention to revisit the measures. This is a fit case where the court should take note of this situation and take up the cause in public interest,' it said.

The bench directed the High Court registry to register a suo motu criminal Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the issue and place it for hearing before the appropriate HC bench on April 20.

It directed the state government to submit details of the coronavirus positive prison inmates and staff by then.

The court impleaded the secretaries of the state home department, the state revenue department, and the Maharashtra director general of police as parties in the PIL. PTI AYA BNM