New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) A high power committee constituted for taking steps to decongest prisons in the national capital in the wake of Coronavirus has asked the Director General (DG) Prisons for “rapid testing” of jail staff and new inmates in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside jail premises.
“Committee opined that ‘Rapid Tests’ need to be conducted to tackle the situation and to prevent the inmates already in Jail from catching the infection. On directions of the Chair, D.G. (Prisons) readily agreed to check the feasibility of getting these ‘Rapid Tests’ conducted as per the ICMR guidelines,” an order of the high powered committee said.
The Committee headed by Delhi High Court judge Justice Hima Kohli and also comprising Tihar Jail DG Sandeep Goyal, Principal Secretary (Home) Satya Gopal and Kanwaljit Arora was set up pursuant to the orders of the Supreme Court in order to decongest the prisons.
In order to present the spread of the virus inside the jail premises, the Committee directed the Jail Staff to continue to conduct Thermal Screening and Medical Examination of any suspected case. Jail Administration is also conducting CT-PCR test in cases of any medical necessity.
It also directed DG (Prisons) for having regular medical checkup of the entire Jail Staff and inmates through Jail Doctors and to strictly follow the advisory and guidelines issued by ICMR and Delhi government’s health department.
“Directions have been given to DG (Prisons) for creation of separate isolation ward for the fresh inmates so that they be not permitted to intermingle with other inmates immediately on their arrival in the Jail,” the order read.
In view of the prevailing situation and to prevent Covid-19 spread in jail, the Committee opined that criteria for grant of interim bail/parole shall be further relaxed. The committee has now included various new categories for this relief including Under trial prisoners (UTPs) (who are related as spouse of the deceased) facing trial for a case under Section 498A and 304B IPC and are in jail for more than two years with no involvement in any other case.
Under trial prisoners (UTPs) (who are related as father-in-law, mother-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law of the deceased) facing trial for offence under Section 498A and 304B IPC and are in jail for more than one year with no involvement in any other case will also be considered for the relief.
“Delhi still has prison population of 13,677 as on June 19, 2020 against the combined holding capacity of 10,026 of 16 Jails of the national capital,” the order read.
Earlier on Friday, a senior official of the of Tihar Central Jail – Asia’s largest prison – tested positive for Covid-19.
According to the jail officials, the officer was the Superintendent of Jail Number 4. He had complained of fever on June 4 and was on leave since then before getting tested for Covid-19 on June 11.
The report, which came on June 13, showed he was positive. “He is currently fine and has recovered but will continue home quarantine till next Saturday (June 27),” Director General, Prisons, Sandeep Goyal said. With this, a total of 56 persons — 37 staffers and 19 inmates — at the Tihar Central Jail have tested positive so far.