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New Delhi : The National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC) India, in the wake of a sizeable number of TB patients in the Lajpore Central Prison, Surat, Gujarat, has recommended the DG Prisons, Government of Gujarat, to screen inmates every six months for TB, HIV/AIDS to provide timely treatment and check the spread of the disease. It has also asked him to increase the staff strength in the prison including the Hospital besides filling up the vacancies at the earliest.
The Commission also recommended that the Government should consider on priority basis terminally ill patients for commutation of sentence. For commuting the sentence, Govt. should consider all the cases as provided U/s 433 CrPC rather than only cases falling U/s 433 A CrPC.
The directions of the Commission have come following a visit by its team led by Member Jyotika Kalra for an on the spot assessment of the facilities in the prison in the wake of the Magisterial Enquiry Report observing that there were complaints of several inmates having TB and lack of medical care, while inquiring into the death of a young undertrial prisoner of 21 years age due to pulmonary TB. The inmate was healthy at the time of entry into the prison on April 27, 2019, and died on July 25, 2020, according to an NHRC release .
The Commission has also said that focus should be on the initial health screening of every inmate at the time of his admission or entry into the jail as per the format prescribed by the NHRC. Besides the ECG and diabetes tests at the time of initial screening, the multi-drug resistant inmates should be kept separate from non-drug-resistant inmates.
The Commission has asked the Registrar, Gujarat High Court, to ensure high speed network before conducting proceedings from jail and at the stage of examination of witnesses, the inmates must be called from the Prison so that they can assist their counsel in cross examination. Further on litigation side, it has been recommended to provide senior lawyers from the Legal Service Authority to represent accused booked under heinous crimes and involve Law students to assist the Legal Aid lawyers.