Even prisoners are entitled to be treated in a humane manner. The High Court directed the State Government to hand over the terminally ill prisoners to their next of kin so that they can be nursed and extended comfort at their respective homes. The Calcutta High Court presided over by C.J. T. Radhakrishnan & J. A. Banerjee laid down this ratio in the case of In re: Overcrowding in prisons, [WPA 7252 of 2018].
The High Court in its own motion was dealing with the issue related to the manner the terminally ill prisoners are required to be dealt with. As per the Government’s Circular ‘terminal illness’ is a medical term to describe an active and progressive illness that cannot be cured by treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient. The Court pursuant to its order dated 9th October 2020, made a list and identified all the terminally ill prisoners. The report also included the treatments that is been given to all the patients in the correctional homes across West Bengal. It was submitted before this court that the treatment received by the prisoners is inadequate and leaves a lot to be desired.
The Court was of the opinion that prisoners cannot be given inhumane treatment and basic facilities should be provided to them. The Court held that, “We are of the view that a prisoner suffering from terminal illness should be treated with sympathy and should be permitted to breathe his last in the comforting company of his family and friends, if, and to the extent, possible. For this purpose, in an appropriate case, the Government may shift a TIP to his home with a direction that he will be kept confined there.” The Court further observed that, “the jurisdictional police will keep a vigil that the concerned person does not step out of his home. The prison authorities may also require the next of kin of the TIP to execute personal bonds guaranteeing that the concerned TIP shall not leave his home. That way, the concerned TIP will receive the love and affection from his near and dear ones and will end his earthly mission with relatively more peace in mind.”
Lastly with respect to exceptional cases the court stated that, “It needs to be emphasized, here and now that this view that we have expressed would take care of only very exceptional cases where such management of a TIP will be inexcusably conducive for that human being in the given set of facts and circumstances; and not otherwise.”
A set of directions have been issued by the High Court to the State Governments in order to hand over the Terminally Ill prisoners.