A PIL has been moved in the Delhi High Court seeking urgent measures to prevent spread of coronavirus COVID-19 in prisons across the country, including Tihar Jail here.
The plea came up for hearing on Friday before a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh which listed it for March 24 before the appropriate bench.
The petition, by a lawyer, has claimed that while the Centre and state governments are taking necessary steps to contain the spread of the virus, jails across India have been neglected from the purview of such precautions.
The petitioner, Vikas Padora, has contended that most of the prisons in India are "overcrowded and functioning beyond capacity" and therefore, "fertile" ground for uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
Apart from Padora's plea, another similar petition has been moved in the high court by two other lawyers seeking directions to the Centre and Delhi government to take steps to prevent spread of coronavirus in prisons in the country.
The second petition is likely to be heard on March 23.
Padora has claimed that he received a letter from a Tihar Jail inmate stating that the prisoners are living in constant fear of being infected by the virus as they eat, sleep and work in close proximity to each other.
The letter also stated that the prisoners have no access to face masks or hand sanitizers and instead they are being made to manufacture such items for themselves, the petition has claimed.
It has contended that "all the jails in India require to install isolation wards in their premises and take immediate measures to control the possible outbreak of COVID-19".
Besides, the plea said that prisoners serving jail term for offences punishable up to 5 years or 7 years "can be released on regular or interim bails for a certain period, as deemed appropriate" and new inmates be sent to jail only after properly screening them for coronavirus infection.
It also said that in order to decongest the prisons, those inmates who are presently on interim bails may not be lodged back into prisons unless and until a serious lapse is found on their part and conduct.
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