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    Ensuring the right to health for prisoners: Rajesh Raghunath Kanojia vs. State of Maharashtra & others

    Date : 13/06/2007

    Articles 21, 225 & 226 of the Constitution of India). Despite further orders and letters the operation had not been carried out as of 26 April 2007, at which point the petitioner was acquitted of the original charges. The prison authorities took the stand that, as the petitioner had been acquitted they could not use the allocated money for his operation. An order was passed on 13 June 2007 stating that as the original infection was caught whilst the applicant was in prison the State would have to bear the expenses of the remedial operation.

    Case Details and Status

    The petitioner was arrested on 24 June 2005 under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code. He was remanded in judicial custody and lodged in Byculla District Prison.

    Whilst working in the prison kitchen, the petitioner fractured his leg. He underwent treatment prior to being moved to Mumbai Central Prison. However, his leg became infected and in May 2006, the petitioner applied for further medical treatment. It was diagnosed that another operation was necessary at a cost of Rs. 35,000/-. This amount was sanctioned by the Office of the I.G. Prisons, Maharashtra State in September 2006. Rs. 35,000/- was deposited with the Mumbai Central Prison on or about 11 September 2006, however as of 29 September 2006, no operation had been performed.

    In light of this inaction, the petitioner made another application seeking medical treatment on 9 September 2006. The Superintendent of Mumbai Central Prison was ordered to provide the necessary medical treatment to the petitioner and to submit a compliance report on 10 October 2006. This report confirmed that an operation was necessary and that Rs. 35000/- had been received by the prison for carrying out the procedure.

    However, despite the need for the operation, orders passed in its favour and receipt of the money by the prison authorities, the petitioner was not sent for the operation.

    Therefore, on 20 January 2007 a further application was made. It was argued that the operation be performed on the petitioner immediately. The non-performance of the operation, and delay in providing the necessary medical treatment to the petitioner, was in clear violation of his fundamental right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which reads: “Protection of life and personal liberty… No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” An order to provide medical treatment to the petitioner was passed on 23 January 2007.

    Over a month later the operation had still not been performed. The petitioner’s advocate sent a letter on 26 February 2007 to the Superintendent, Mumbai Central Prison, asking the superintendent to comply with the order. The petitioner was moved to a hospital but the operation was not performed. The reasons given were the non-preparation of a necessary implant and the lack of an anesthetist.

    The petitioner was acquitted of the original charges under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code on 26 April 2007.

    After acquittal, the prison authorities took the stand that as the petitioner had been acquitted and was no longer in their custody the amount of Rs.35,000/- could not be spent on him.

    An order was passed on 13 June 2007 confirming that, as the original infection was caught whilst the applicant was in prison the State would have to bear the expenses of the remedial operation.

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