VISHNU NEOPANEYThe division bench of the High Court of Sikkim has directed the State Government though the Health department to establish dispensaries in the Central Jail at Rongyek and district prison at Namchi within a month with all the possible facilities of nursing staff and resident doctor.
While hearing the suo moto PIL taken up by it after the Supreme Court directed the all High Courts to take up the PIL within their respective jurisdictions and supervise and direct the state government providing such facilities for inmates in jail and directed the state to establish temporary in both the jails with all facilities relating to the staff structure, conservative arrangements and medicines as provided in the Jail Manual.
The bench headed by Chief Justice SK Sinha and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai directed the government that the dispensary may be established at such a place in the jail premises so that inmates can safely access the dispensary for medical treatment at any time. The Court has granted four weeks time to the state to establish such dispensaries and file a report in this regard.
Chapter V and Chapter XIII of the Sikkim Prison Manual, 2010 provide for medical facilities for inmates within campus with dispensary, Resident Doctor and nursing staff and medical facilities to be given to women prisoners within the campus.
However, the state government said that the dispensary for the Central Prison at Rongyek is planned for construction in Phase II of Prison Modernisation for which funds are yet to be released adding that once the funds are released the construction work shall be undertaken.
The high court has also taken serious note of the affidavit filed by the state Police department and directed that the provisions of Jail Manual shows that according to the Manual itself there should be a dispensary in each jail, whereas, the said facility is totally lacking in the two jails of the state.
The division bench also observed that the court is aware of the fact that construction of separate dispensary along with all infrastructures would take some time and directed to establish temporary dispensary in both the jails.
The bench further seeks information and position with details of facilities provided to mentally challenged prisoners, under-trails or convicts since 2011.
“As far as facilities relating to the members of the society, who are mentally challenged and are not involved in any case or criminal activity etc. averments made in the affidavit, a fully functional Psychiatric department with out-patients facilities as well as 20 in-door beds are presently available at STNM hospital at Gangtok,” the division bench said. However, expressed its anguish over no such facilities are there in any other district hospitals of the state and said the state will show the possibility of opening a functional Psychiatric department in each district.