Gauhati HC registers suo motu plea over COVID-19 cases in Assam Jails [Read Order]

The Gauhati High Court on Thursday asked the Assam Government to appraise it of the number of COVID-19 positive cases detected in each of the jails, number of COVID-19 positive cases, which are asymptomatic and symptomatic and the precautionary steps taken before the inmates were detected COVID-19 positive.
The HC also directed that the persons who have not been detected COVID-19 positive be segregated and be maintained as such so that the disease is not transmitted to them. It added that in any case, all the jail inmates in the State of Assam be tested for Coronavirus, the results thereof be conveyed to it.
This followed a suo motu case registered by the High Court taking note of the raising cases of COVID-19 positive cases in various jails in Assam.
A division bench of the Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Manish Choudhary said even the District and Sessions Judge, Nagaon had sent a communication that 48 out of 79 jail inmates who were tested by rapid antigen test (for COVID-19) on July 21 had been tested COVID-19 positive apart from another 5 jail inmates already tested COVID-19 positive. 
In the prima facie opinion of the court, some persons from outside had been a carrier and had transmitted the disease within jails. It added appropriate precautions and measures were not taken to avoid spread of the virus in the jails. 
“The Jail Manual mandates restricted entry in the jails. The persons confined in jails are either undertrial prisoners; or convicts, after conviction. Either way, the entry in the jail is restricted and only the authorized personnel are allowed to enter jails”, the court said.
As per reports, among those who tested positive in Guwahati central jail are peasant leader Akhil Gogoi and student activist Sharjeel Imam.
In an interim direction, the court directed the government to take the best of the measures available with it to give qualitative treatment to the jail inmates across the state so that no further damage is caused.
The court made it clear that in case the reply-affidavit on each of the points made by it is not filed on or before the next date of listing, it is likely to impose exemplary cost to be deducted from the salary of the officer who is found responsible in causing delay in process of the Court.
The next date of hearing has been fixed for August 8.
Read Order here: