By LE Desk

New Delhi, April 29: The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Centre, the Delhi government and the prison authorities on a plea seeking parole of prisoners involved in non-heinous crimes from three jails in the city in view of the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued a notice to the ministries of law and health, the Delhi government, police, office of the Lieutenant Governor and the director general of prisons, seeking their stand on the petition by May 4, the Hindustan Times reported.

Advocate Ajay Verma, appearing for the petitioners, told the court that recently, 190 inmates and 304 prison staff of Tihar jail tested positive for Covid-19 and the infection has spread across the prison.

The petitioners– three lawyers and a law student –have contended that at a time when there is a surge in Covid -19 infection, decongestion of the prisons is necessary as they are filled much beyond their capacity.

“That the present total number of inmates as on April 7 is 17,285 as against a total capacity of 10,026 of the three jails — Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini,” states the petition.

Meanwhile, another single bench of the Delhi HC, directed the Delhi government and the prison authority to ensure proper medical supervision of former RJD MP Mohammed Shahabuddin, who is suffering from Covid-19 and is currently admitted in Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital.

Justice Prathiba M Singh said the doctor on duty looking after Covid-19 patients shall monitor Shahabuddin’s health and if required, also consult senior doctors of the hospital.

The court also directed that the former RJD MP, serving life sentence for murder, be permitted to speak to a family member twice a day and disposed of his plea seeking protection of his life and monitoring of the treatment being administered to him at DDU Hospital.

In his plea, Shahabuddin said he apprehended that he will not get proper treatment as there is a scarcity of oxygen and other medicines in Delhi. He also alleged that he is “apprehending the mismanagement of his health situation at the hands of the doctors at the behest of the opposite political leaders” in Delhi.

According to the petition, he was lodged in a cell, in the high risk ward of Tihar Jail, which he was sharing with another inmate.

Despite the other inmate testing positive for Covid-19 early April, Shahabuddin was kept in the same cell with the infected inmate and “no separate arrangement was made by the jail authorities,” read the petition.

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