The Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government to take an appropriate policy decision to tackle the spread of COVID-19 at Arthur Road Jail in central Mumbai.
At least 77 inmates and 26 personnel of Arthur Road Jail tested positive for coronavirus early this week.
Justice Bharati Dangre on Friday was hearing a bail application filed by Ali Akbar Shroff, one of the inmates at the prison, seeking temporary bail on medical grounds.
In his order, Justice Dangre noted that the situation was precarious and in such a contingency, the state government and the policy makers should take a decision.
"If it is true that more than 100 patients have tested positive in Arthur Road Jail, then it is for the authorities to ensure that other inmates, who are presently lodged in the jail, are not infected by the virus on account of overcrowding," the court said.
The authorities must remember that inmates had the right to a safe and healthy environment even when they were incarcerated, Justice Dangre said.
The court directed the state government and prison department to take appropriate steps.
"There is always a hope and expectation that the jail authorities are sensitive to the prevalent situation," the court said.
The bench noted that there were several inmates above the age of 60 and others who suffered from ailments.
"Under such circumstances, it is open for the state government and jail authorities to take appropriate policy decision to tackle the situation to keep all inmates safe and ensure that they contain the spread of virus in the jail," the court said.
Shroff's counsel Aabad Ponda argued that the inmate suffered from diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure, and hence, needed to be kept safe to ensure that he does not contract the infection.
The court, however, rejected Shroff's plea after noting that no imminent health impediment was reflected in his case.
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