Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Nitin Jamdar and C.V. Bhadang, JJ., took suo motu cognizance of the rise on COVID-19 cases in the prisons of State of Maharashtra.
Instant Public Interest litigation was a Suo Motu PIL initiated Re: the rise in COVID-19 Virus cases in March-April 2021 in the prisons of the State of Maharashtra.
Newspaper reports, more particularly, Hindustan Times and Free Press Journal have highlighted an alarming rise in the COVID-19 cases in the prisons in the State of Maharashtra. It had been reported that almost two hundred prisoners amongst 47 prisons in the State have been tested positive as of 14th April 2021. For about 86 staff members working in the prisons have been tested positive.
Advocate General informed the Bench that the Court had taken up a similar cause in July 2020 where the measures taken by the State Government were noted and certain directions were issued.
“…reports show a sudden rise of the COVID-19 cases in the State prisons, indicating a need for the Court’s intervention to revisit the measures.”
Bench directed the Registry to register the Suo Motu (Criminal) Public Interest Litigation under Rule 4 of the Bombay High Court Public Interest Litigation Rules, 2010.
The petition will be taken up today.
Court directed respondents to place the following information on record:
- Status of the COVID-19 cases, both the staff members and the inmates in the prisons in the State of Maharashtra.
- Measures being taken and proposed to be taken to control the spread of the Virus in the prisons
- Measures to de-congest the jails in the State of Maharashtra.
[High Court on its own motion v. State of Maharashtra, Suo Motu Public Interest Litigation No. 1 of 2021, decided on 16-04-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
Mr A.A. Kumbhakoni, Advocate General a/w. Mr Deepak Thakare, Govt. Pleader for the Respondent – State