By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 20 Apr: A division bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Alok Verma of the Uttarakhand High Court, while hearing a PIL filed by the NGO, Samadhan, has questioned the government over alleged compliance failure regarding rules on prisoners’ welfare. The Court has directed the state’s IG Prisons and Health Department to respond in a matter related to 44 prisoners being found HIV Positive. The Court has asked the government to submit its response before 28 June, when the next hearing is due to be held.
It in its PIL, Samadhan had claimed that the state government failed to conduct HIV tests for all prisoners and prison staff to know their real HIV status. Also, the government failed to provide adequate medical facilities to the prisoners, despite this shocking revelation. The petition further claims that the jail authorities in Haldwani had failed to conduct the ‘mandatory’ pre-entry HIV tests on prisoners. It further stresses on test of all inmates including the convicted prisoners, the undertrial prisoners and the jail staff. Samadhan is being represented by Advocate Prabha Naithani as its counsel in the High Court. Further, the NGO has also pleaded before the court about the need to frame SOPs in this regard to avoid recurrence of such incidents.
Speaking to Garhwal Post, Renu D Singh, the founder of Samadhan, asserted that there is a well intended national policy on prisoners’ health and right to life to be protected by the state. India is a signatory to the UN Charter in respect of prisoners’ rights. She further reminded that the Supreme Court has given clear instructions regarding protection of prisoners against diseases such as HIV and others. The PIL mentions that there are 12 prisons in the state of Uttarakhand, but there is no genuine compliance with the pre- entry HIV test of all the prisoners / detainees / undertrials. She said that she has pleaded with the High Court to issue suitable directives to the state government to conduct HIV testing of all prisoners and to provide effective treatment to the HIV positive prisoners. The NGO has also urged the High Court to issue instructions to the government to ensure special care and preventive steps to be taken for women and children in the prison against possible HIV infection. Another plea is to ensure that effective SOPs and rules are framed for compliance by the authorities in case of the prisons. The PIL also demands appointment of a special Judicial Investigation into the reasons for the lapse and gaps in the spreading of HIV infection and orders to develop and implement human resources to tackle such situations.