HE the Bombay High Court ruled on Friday that prisoners were entitled to their medical records under article 21 of the Constitution and, upon request, should be provided with prescribed medication and test results.
A Bombay High Court vacation bench composed of Judges SJ Kathawalla and Surendra Tavade issued an order to that effect on a plea filed by the daughter of activist Sudha Bhardwaj, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, alleging non -providing her mother’s medical records and praying for medical treatment and medical bail.
He also said detainees have the right to be allowed to call an approved family member and go to the hospital.
The bench closed the petition after lawyer Yug Chaudhary, for the petitioner, argued that since Sudha Bhardwaj had received appropriate medical treatment.
ASG Anil Singh appeared for the NIA and PP Jayesh Yagnik for the state.
Attorney Chaudhary argued that prisoners do not receive copies of their own medical records, which violates their rights under section 21. He mentioned that in the applicant’s case, as his attorney, he had to make numerous phone calls and emails to obtain a copy of his medical records – an unnecessarily lengthy process in obtaining the documents an inmate is entitled to receive.
He had two main prayers: that all detainees receive copies of their medical records as part of their section 21 right, and that they be allowed to call an approved family member or their lawyer after each. visit to the hospital.
He stressed that the application of this principle to all prisoners would considerably reduce the requests, because currently, they are obliged to seize the Court for the most basic questions.
The court pointed out that this could cause inmates to make daily phone calls, as they would report to the prison hospital on a daily basis. Chaudhary clarified that he meant hospital visits outside of the prison, which had to be approved by the prison doctors.
ASG Singh argued that detainees should not be allowed to call their lawyers, as they likely had no medical expertise, and phone calls should be limited to an approved family member. The court agreed and Chaudhary nodded.
PP Yagnik, representing the state, argued that permission to call an approved family member should not be a matter of law for all detainees, but should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
ASG Singh added to this, stating that this petition was filed on behalf of a single petitioner and should not be treated as a PIL. He mentioned that there are several orders made every day in similar cases and that the Court should take them into account before ruling on the matter.
In response, Chaudhary categorically stated that such a solution would significantly reduce litigation. He also noted that he was sure ASG Singh would agree that this was an urgent requirement.
ASG Singh disagreed, praying that the court would give specific, not general, direction.
Click here to read the order