HC directs Tamil Nadu govt to consider providing medical care to prison inmates
The Madras High Court Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to consider providing medical care to the state's prison inmates, including those suffering from mental illnesses.
A Division Bench, comprising Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice P Rajamanickam passed the order after going through a report by advocate R Vaigai, appointed as amicus curiae to look into the medical facilities available in prisons.
The report said there were prisoners with ailments, including mental illness, and sought a direction to extend care and assistance to them.
Taking note, the bench directed the Tamil Nadu Health Secretary to consider providing medical care to the inmates of all prisons including the undertrials and file a comprehensive report by December 13.
The amicus curiae, referring to Model Prison Manual, 2016, said the prison department must ensure that the inmates interact freely with the board of visitors, comprising official and non-official members at district and sub-divisional level to inspect the conditions at prisons.
Whenever the officials interact with the inmates, the prison officials are present, she said, adding that the prisoners hesitate to share their grievances out of fear of reprisal.
Also, she said that the government shall follow the guidelines laid down in the Model Prison Manual which says that during such visits, a visitor (member of the board of visitors) shall enjoy the right to converse secretly and separately with any prisoner who seeks a hearing.
However, such an interaction shall be held in a separate place within the prison.
After going through the report of the amicus curiae and the manual, the bench on its own impleaded the Principal Secretary and the Health Secretary as respondents, and posted the matter to December 13 for further hearing.
(With inputs from agencies.)