The Himachal Pradesh High Court granted bail to the Accused suffering from Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and criticized the failure of the jail authorities to extend requisite medical support and health care to him.

The Court also requested the Registry to place the matter as a Public Interest Litigation before the Chief Justice’s Court for his primary consideration, inter alia, for ensuring required medical care facilities, including workable hospitals in prisons as provided in the Himachal Pradesh Prison Manual, 2021 and right to life, which includes right to live with human dignity by providing a standardized quality food, better clothing, hygiene, sanitization and better living conditions in prisons.

The Bench of Justice Ranjan Sharma observed, In the above backdrop, since the Jail Authorities, in the instant case, on facts, have failed to provide the required medical treatment and healthcare and have also failed to meet out and extend required advisories given by medical experts of one of the premier health Institute i.e. IGMC (ARC Centre), Shimla, which are indispensable not only for the purpose of restoration of the health of the bail petitioner, who is suffering from HIV Syndrome and other ancillary ailments, {as per medical records} and are of utmost priority for preserving the human dignity by permitting the bail petitioner to live in an environment which is congenial to him and therefore, this Court is of the considered view, that the bail petitioner needs to be enlarged on bail, on extreme adversarial medical grounds.

Advocate Servedaman Rathore appeared for the Petitioner whereas Deputy Advocate General Prashant Sen appeared for the Respondent.

The Petitioner was a co-accused in the FIR registered under Sections 419, 420, 465, 467 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code and sought regular bail under Section 439 of the CrPC on medical grounds as he is suffering from HIV.

The Medical Records of the Petitioner stated that he lost about 9-10 kgs of weight during the last two weeks which is on account of his being HIV coupled with other ancillary ailments being suffered by the Petitioner. Moreover, even the officials of District Jail Kaithu, Shimla, had expressed their practical difficulty in not providing adequate medical healthcare and personal hygiene, as required in the case of the bail petitioner, in terms of the previous order.

The Court held, “Despite the fact that the Statute and State Prison Manual 2021, provide safeguards for extending medical facilities but the State Jail Authorities have failed to implement the Himachal Prison Manual, 2021, is writ large, in the instant case, as no regular Medical Officer is posted in District Jail Kaithu [Shimla]. Surprisingly, a visiting doctor is deployed to visit the jail, twice a week, which schedule is also by and large at mercy of higher authorities. During the course of hearing of this petition, on 1.5.2024, the officials of District Jail Kaithu [Shimla], who were present in the Court, informed through the Learned State Counsel that against the Inmate Capacity of 183, in District Jail Kaithu [Shimla], 254 Prisoners- Inmates exist as on day.”

The Court also placed its reliance on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 and perused Section 3(c) and Section 3(i) of the Act of 2017, which provides that no person who is suffering from HIV Syndrome can be denied or discontinued or given unfair treatment in Healthcare Services, in the Government or Private Establishments, in whose care or custody an HIV patient is there.

The Court also referred to the Himachal Pradesh Prison Manual 2021 which mandates various obligations on the persons who are entrusted with supervision, management and care of the prison inmates.

The Court, while reiterating the fundamental principles of the Right to Life, Health and Healthcare, also observed that, “Failure on the part of a government hospital to provide the timely medical treatment to a person in need of such treatment results violation of his right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, as has been done in the instant case…A perusal of the material on record and the orders dated 30.04.2024 passed by this Court, the State Authorities have shown their inability to provide the requisite healthcare to the bail petitioner while in custody. Even, on being taken for treatment to the IGMC [ART Centre], though, the medical experts had opined that the bail petitioner is required for continuation of admission for few more days so as examine his vitals and to make him to undergo some tests but, for reasons known to them, the bail -petitioner was abruptly discharged prematurely from the Hospital, leading to depriving the bail petitioner of his requisite healthcare, being HIV Positive.”

Accordingly, the Court enlarged the Petitioner on bail subject to conditions. The Court also directed the Registry to furnish a copy of the order to the Director General of Police Punjab, the Director General of Police Punjab Haryana and the Station House Officer Police Station (East)Shimla, and also to the Station House Officer, Police Station (PGIMER), Chandigarh, for information.

Further, the requested the Registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice for considering the matter to be taken up as PIL to ensure the implementation of prison reforms and safeguarding and preserve the fundamental right of life in terms of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, including health/health care, and to enable the prisoners to live a life with dignity.

Cause Title: X v. State of Himachal Pradesh


Petitioner: Advocates Servedaman Rathore, Vipin Bhatia and Rohit Steta.

Respondents: Deputy Advocate General Prashant Sen

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