Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Healthcare for prisoners in India.

 HEALTHCARE FOR PRISONERS IN INDIA

It is the mentality of people that people send in prisons as punishment and not for punishment. Everyone believe that prisoners should not have a legal or human rights and they should be treated harshly in any possible manner.

Prisoner are given many rights as per international treaties. And among these rights one of the rights is right to  healthcare and to be free from contact of any disease. Laws related to prisoners also states that prisoners not lose all their rights only because of imprisonment.

Public health policies aim to provide the best possible living conditions for all members of society in order for everyone to be healthy. However, the prisoners are frequently excluded from these policies. Prisoners are the people who came into contact of lot of people on day-to-day basis and because of which they are very much prone to disease which demands an extra care for them and for the people who have contact outside this community.

Almost all the prisoners undergo medical examination when they began serving their sentence but after the sentence begins the examination is done rarely. Only a few jails have established informal contacts with medical and social organisations for custodial counselling. The situation is more pathetic in tehsil level jails where even basic facilities are not provided.

The monotonous prison environment, lack of mental and physical stimulation, and plain boredom all contribute to accumulated frustration and tension. For this type of situation, a counsellor is also required.

Supreme Court in its landmark decision in Parmanand Katara vs Union of India (1989) and others, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the state has an obligation to preserve life regardless of whether the person is innocent or a criminal liable to punishment under the law. In terms of health, the right to adequate conditions for the health and well-being of all was already recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESR) states that prisoners have a right to the best possible physical and mental health.

ROLE OF JUDICIARY IN PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF PRISONERS

The superior courts in India i.e., the Supreme Court and the High court has obligation to protect human rights of every citizen. Article 21 of the constitution has provision for the preservation and protection of prisoner’s right in order to maintain their dignity. The rights of prisoners is also dealt in Prison Act, 1894 and the code of criminal procedure. 

In Rasikbhai Ramsun Rana vs. State of Gujarat, the Gujarat High Court ruled that petitioners put in prison in the Central Prison, Vadodara, who were suffering from serious illnesses, were denied adequate and prompt medical care due to a lack of jail escorts required to transport them to the hospital, and that the court held negligent officers personally accountable.

The Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Parmanand Katara vs Union of India (1989 AIR 2039) that the state has a duty to maintain life regardless of whether the individual is innocent or guilty of a crime, establishing a strong precedent for prisoners' rights in India, particularly the fundamental right to health guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

COVID AND PRISONER’S HEALTHCARE

COVID-19 has clarified the inadequacy of healthcare provided to Indian prisoners. Failure to address the health crisis imposes a new informal punishment on top of the formal one imposed by the courts. It must come to an end. It can be seen that the Supreme Court has been doing its best to improve the situation, but government interference is making certain things difficult for the inmates to survive in such a place. Experimentation has also shown that financial flexibility and decision-making autonomy help to avoid unnecessary bureaucratic delays. Personalized prison management and collaboration with outside businesses can improve food quality, sanitation, medical facilities, and the behaviour of prisoners.


It is hoped that the situation will improve in the near future, as prisoners continue to be protected in terms of life and personal liberty.


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