In the case of Natasha Narwal v. State, the Delhi High Court has directed the Tihar Jail Superintendent to counsel and encourage inmates over the age of 45 years to obtain vaccination against COVID-19 at the earliest.
By: Gurleen Kaur Anand, Amity University, Mumbai
On the issue of vaccination, as the inmates who are 45+ years of age are concerned, there are a total of 136 inmates for whom vaccines are already stated to have been received by the Jail Superintendent. Out of them, only 12 inmates have already been vaccinated.
Considering that for inmates who are 45+ years of age, vaccines are already available and are with the Jail Superintendent, it is directed that proper counselling shall be done for these inmates, and they would be encouraged to obtain vaccination at the earliest.
“Considering the density of occupancy in jail premises, vaccination is almost a necessity for all inmates” was averred by the court.
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.
So far 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 have assured this Court that all the 136 inmates, who are 45+ years of age, would be vaccinated by 31st May, 2021.
Further, the inmates in COVID-19 positive wards are concerned, daily calling would be permitted for a maximum of 5 minutes for these inmates, considering that they would wish to update their family members as to their medical condition. E-mulaqats are being permitted only once for 15 minutes, every ten days.
Considering the current pandemic situation, there could be relatives and family members of the inmates, who may wish to be in touch with the inmates.
Accordingly, e-mulaqaats for at least half an hour, each week, would be permitted by the Jail Authorities, to all the inmates.
It was also submitted that intermingling of the recovering COVID-19 positive patient is being completely avoided, and separate water facilities and other common facilities are being made available through dedicated staff to the recovery, COVID positive and isolation wards.