The Delhi High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the government after being told that lack of coordination between Tihar jail authorities and government hospitals had led to situations where patients with serious medical problems did not get proper treatment.
The report, submitted by amicus curiae Saquib, also said that the mortuaries at government hospitals were not being maintained properly. It cited the example of the mortuary near Sabzi Mandi road under Aruna Asaf Ali hospital, which it said was in an extremely run-down condition run by untrained personnel.
“There is no respect for the dead, there is no respect for the living. Whether he is innocent or not is irrelevant. He is a human being. They need to be treated,” the court said.
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The observation came after the counsel said the mortuary was keeping unidentified bodies in gunny bags and not even washing them even though it has a cold storage facility. The court also took note of a news report which stated that 29 unidentified bodies had been dumped on the road near the mortuary.
The court asked the government, the three municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council to file a status report, indicating the facilities available at each hospital and mortuary to keep dead bodies.
The court also asked the government counsel to explain the situation, noting that, according to an earlier affidavit filed before the court, the Aruna Asaf Ali hospital was supposed to be made into a “model hospital”. “Is this your model?” the court said.
The condition of living prisoners was also brought to the notice of the court, with the amicus giving examples of two seriously ill prisoners at Tihar, who were not receiving proper treatment. One prisoner, who had acute kidney problems, was asked to reach LNJP hospital at 7 am for dialysis. He was forced to go back without treatment as the jail van could not reach hospital at the appointed time. According to jail rules, the van could not have left that early.
Another prisoner with a collapsed vertebrae was sent to DDU hospital for surgery, but was sent back after being given medicines.