A Bench of Justice Robin Phukan of the Gauhati High Court has held that the right of an under-trial prisoner to seek medical treatment right cannot be interpreted and extended to get treated in a private hospital of his own choice, while such kind of treatment is very much available in the government Hospitals.

In the present case, the petitioner prayed that the Central Jail, Guwahati may be directed to allow him to get admitted to a private hospital of his choice, at his own cost. Further, he sought his release on personal bond for treatment, pursuant to release from the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).

The petitioner has been in jail for more than 350 days and has been facing multiple health issues and over the past few months, his health condition has been deteriorating. He was charge-sheeted by the CBI under Section 120-B of the IPC, read with Section 7/8/12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Advocate SA Hussain, appearing on behalf of the petitioner contended that the right to receive proper medical treatment is a Fundamental Right, as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India and therefore petition praying for admission in the Private Hospital of choice may be allowed, particularly, when the petitioner is ready to bear the costs.

Further, the counsel for the petitioner placed his reliance upon the decision of the Supreme Court, in the case of Gautam Navlakha vs. National Investigation Agency & Anr. wherein the right of an under-trial prisoner to seek medical treatment has been recognized as a Fundamental Right.

Standing Counsel M. Haloi representing CBI argued that the petitioner was referred to various departments of the GMCH at regular intervals for necessary follow up and reviews and is under medication

Further, the Standing Counsel stated that the medical report does not indicate any serious ailment and the type of treatment required for the petitioner is available at the GMCH and as such, there is no question of allowing him to take treatment in a Private Hospital of his choice.

When necessary treatment is being provided to the petitioner in GMCH and while the health condition of the petitioner is improved after taking such treatment at GMCH, it cannot be said that the fundamental right of the petitioner is impaired, said the Court.

The High Court said that “It also cannot be lost sight that an undertrial prisoner’s right to life does not diminish even a wee bit, when in jail as an accused for an offence and such a person’s health concerned have to be taken care of by the State”.

Earlier, the High Court while hearing his bail application passed an interim direction to the Jail Authority that in case of serious illness, the petitioner may be allowed to get admitted in a Private Hospital, of his choice at his own cost.

“[T]he Jail Authority shall take all necessary steps to provide necessary treatment to the petitioner at the GMCH or in any other Govt. Hospital as and when required”, the Court clarified while dismissing the petition.

Cause Title- Chintan Jain v. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

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