Mumbai: The vacation bench of the Bombay High Court led by Justice Shahrukh Kathawalla on Friday held that every prisoner has the right to their own medical records under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The HC made the observation while disposing of the medical bail application filed by daughter of jailed activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who told the bench that she has received the requisite medical attention and now doesn't need bail on health grounds.
The bench was seized with a plea filed by Maaysha Singh the daughter of Sudha Bharadwaj seeking bail on medical grounds, especially after three of her co-inmates tested positive for Covid-19.
The HC had on a previous hearing had ordered the Maharashtra government to submit a report spelling out Sudha's medical conditions.
On Friday, when the matter came up for hearing, the state prosecutor submitted her medical reports.
On this, advocate Yug Chaudhary for Sudha told the judges that they weren't given the medical report. He further told the judges that it is his client's right to get her medical records, especially when the HC has ordered the medical tests.
Chaudhary further told the judges that his client isn't allowed to even speak to her family members despite them calling several times. He highlighted the fact that instead of speaking to the family members the jail officials of Byculla women cell, where Sudha is presently lodged, had told the media that she is cooking false stories regarding her health.
At this, additional solicitor general Anil Singh for the NIA said the central agency has no objection to give her the medical reports, "however, it is for the state to decide on this issue," he submitted.
Having heard the contentions, the bench held, "Prisoners have a right to their own medical records under Article 21 of Constitution of India."
"In view thereof all medical records including tests conducted and medicines prescribed should be given to the prisoner on request," said the bench also comprising of Justice Surendra Tawade.
The judges in their order said they would go a step further and said, "In fact this should be done for every prisoner." "A prisoner should be allowed to make a phone call to an approved family member after a hospital visit," the judges further ordered.
Meanwhile, Chaudhary told the judges that his client now doesn't seek bail on medical grounds. "I have instructions not to press for medical bail today as my client has got sufficient medical attention after filing this plea. Thus, we don't need medical bail as of now," the counsel said.
Accordingly, the judges disposed of the petition.