Prison or hospital? Which is safer for mother & newborn, asks High Court

Prison or hospital? Which is safer for mother & newborn, asks High Court

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9

In an exceptional case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked the Patiala Central Jail Superintendent to specify whether a hospital or the prison would be safer in view of the Covid outbreak in case of a woman, who delivered a child during her custody in a drugs case.

Jail Supdt asked to consult civil surgeon

The Patiala jail superintendent has been asked to consult the Civil Surgeon, the SMO concerned or the jail doctor before apprising the court of whether the hospital where the woman and her newborn child were admitted to, or the prison where she was confined, was more suitable and safe for them in the prevailing Covid circumstances.

The jail superintendent has been asked to consult the Civil Surgeon, senior medical officer concerned or the jail doctor before apprising the court of whether the hospital where she and her newborn child were currently admitted to, or the prison where she was confined, was more suitable and safe for both of them in the prevailing circumstances.

Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul also asked the state counsel to apprise this court about the conditions prevailing in her native village after the Covid-19 eruption after making necessary enquiries from the district administration.

Sonia had moved the High Court against the state of Punjab for three-month interim regular bail in a case registered in July last year under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act at the Sadar police station in Rajpura.

Her counsel told the Bench that the petitioner was pregnant at the time of her arrest in July 2019 and delivered the child during her custody at Government Rajendra Hospital in Patiala on April 2. He added it would not be safe and conducive for her to take care of the newborn while in custody due to the conditions prevailing in the country in view of the pandemic.

Justice Kaul asserted a high-powered committee headed by a High Court Judge had laid down the criteria for release of convicts and undertrials in the state of Punjab in pursuance to the directives issued by the apex

court.

It was clearly stipulated that undertrials involved in NDPS cases would be considered for release on interim bail only where the recovery of contraband fell within the definition of small quantity.

The court could not turn a blind eye and was, rather, conscious of the fact that the applicant-petitioner had been booked in the present case under the provisions of the NDPS Act involving a huge recovery of contraband, which admittedly fell within the definition of the commercial quantity. As such, she was ineligible for being released on interim regular bail in accordance with the criteria laid down by the committee.

“This court, however, cannot at the same time be oblivious to the fact that the

newborn child of the applicant-petitioner needs to be protected from the deadly Covid-19. As such, it would be most appropriate to seek an  opinion/report from the Superintendent, Central Jail, Patiala....,” Justice

Kaul added.

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