The Delhi High Court this week directed the Tihar Jail Superintendent to counsel and encourage inmates over the age of 45 years to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19, at the earliest (Natasha Narwal v. State).
“Considering the density of occupancy in jail premises, vaccination is almost a necessity for all inmates,” the Court said.
The Court also stated that if an identity card, in the form of an Aadhar card or a PAN card, was not available with an inmate, the Prison ID number may be used as the identification number for the vaccination portal/app.
An inmate may also be permitted to use the mobile number of a close relative for the purpose of registration for the vaccine, the Court added.
The order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh with respect to the inmates in Central Jail-6 Tihar.
The Court was dealing with the petition preferred by Delhi riots accused and Pinjra Tod member, Natasha Narwal for prison reforms.
Justice Singh was informed that vaccines for 136 inmates belonging to the 45+ age category had already been received by the Jail Superintendent.
However, only 12 inmates could be vaccinated on account of various impediments such as hesitancy of inmates to get vaccinated, non-availability of identity cards such as Aadhar Card, PAN Card, and the non-availability of a mobile number to register on the CoWIN portal.
The prison authorities have now assured the Court that all 136 inmates who are 45+ years of age would be vaccinated by May 31, 2021.
Insofar as 279 inmates who are in the 18-44 age group, the Court was informed that the Jail Superintendent was yet to receive vaccines for them.
The Court accordingly directed that a request be made by the Jail Superintendent for procuring the requisite vaccines for the age group 18-44 years and the same shall be considered expeditiously by the authorities.
If there is any impediment in respect of the same, an appropriate application may be moved by the jail authorities, the Court said.
In its order, the Court also permitted e-mulaqaats for at least half an hour each week, for all the inmates.
The Court also clarified that inmates in recovery/isolation/COVID-19 positive wards would be permitted to make a phone call for a maximum of 5 minutes to update their family members as to their medical condition.
Advocates Adit S Pujari, Tusharika Mattoo, Kunal Negi, Kajal Dalal, and Chaitanya Sundriyal appeared for the petitioner.
Additional Standing Counsel Gautam Narayan with Advocate Ritika Vohra appeared for the State.