Bombay High Court: State obliged to maintain health of prisoners in its custody

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court recently came to the rescue of an inmate in Mumbai Central prison by directing the Maharashtra government to provide medical assistance at its own cost. This comes after the inmate, who is suffering from a chronic disease, approached the HC seeking medical assistance. Granting him relief, the court reiterated that the state is under obligation to take care of the inmate, who is in its custody.

Ajaysingh Dahiya, an inmate suffering from multiple sclerosis, had petitioned a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Vijaya Tahilramani and Justice Mahesh Sonak seeking temporary release under parole. He informed the judges that owing to his illness, he has been admitted to the Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy (JJ) hospital since March 3, 2018.

In his plea, Dahiya mentioned that the doctors have advised an Avonex injection every week, claiming it to be extremely important for his life. He further stated that the injection costs Rs10,000 each time. He highlighted the fact that neither he nor his family could afford this charge. He argued that it was the obligation of the government to take up his case since he was in the state’s custody.

Jail authorities on the other hand claimed Dahiya was stable and that his family or relatives could arrange for the injections, as prescribed by the doctors. Having considered the submissions, Acting Chief Justice Tahilramani said, “We are unable to accept the approach of the jail authorities and the state in the present case. The record indicates that the doctors  who are treating Dahiya have themselves advised that he must be administered certain medications.”

“The state, in such circumstances, cannot avoid its responsibility or require Dahiya or his relatives to arrange for such medicines, particularly when there is material on record which indicates that neither he nor his relatives are really in a position to afford such medicines,” ACJ Tahilramani added.

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