The Supreme Court on Friday refused to pass an order in a Criminal Appeal by a prisoner suffering from various illnesses seeking permission to undergo treatment in a Multi Speciality Private Hospital instead of a government hospital. The Prisoner undergoing incarceration at Central Prison, Palamkottai for the past six years is convicted of life imprisonment under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Vacation Bench of Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice P.S. Narasimha noted that as per the report of the Medical Officer of the Central Prison, the prisoner voluntarily gave his willingness to undergo surgery in the Government Hospital. On the contrary, the Bench noted that the counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that he has received instructions from the prisoner that he wants to undergo treatment in a Private Hospital.

On noticing the anomaly, the Bench directed that "In case, the petitioner is willing to take the treatment in a private hospital, he shall file an affidavit to the effect specifying the details of the hospital in which he wants to get the treatment." The Bench also noted that "Considering the aforesaid, at present, we direct that as per the willingness of the prisoner, the treatment be provided by the jail authorities on government expenditure."

It was submitted in the Criminal Appeal that the Petitioner has deteriorating physical health conditions and was found to have the inability to sit up from a supine position along with difficulty in moving upper limbs. It was submitted that the Petitioner is diagnosed RTA with a head injury and has been admitted to the hospital on many occasions.

The Appeal stated that as per the Medical Reports, the prisoner requires 3 to 4 types of surgery in an interval of 6 months and that the prisoner is disabled for the past 5 years. The Prisoner further submits in the Appeal that the "Right to Health is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and it equally qualifies a right to get quality medical treatment."

Appearing for the prisoner, Advocate-on-Record A. Selvin Raja along with Advocate G. Anto Prince contended that the Court may be pleased to suspend the sentence of the Petitioner and enlarge him on bail on the deteriorating health and the immediate need for the surgery. Counsel submitted that once the Petitioner is enlarged on bail, he can avail treatment at a private hospital of his choice.

It was also submitted in the Criminal Appeal that all the other accused are on bail and their sentences have been suspended by the Supreme Court and only the Petitioner is in jail for more than 6 years.

In the report submitted by the Medical Officer of the Central Prisoner, Palayamkottia it was stated that the prisoner on May 5, 2023, gave his willingness to undergo surgery at the Government Hospital and thereafter on May 6, 2023, on being informed that he may need 3 to 4 surgery the prisoner said that he was not able to decide.

The Supreme Court in its order stated that "to contradict the report of the Medical Officer, nothing is on record" and asked for an affidavit by the Prisoner. The Court directed to list the matter after the Summer Vacation.

Cause Title: George v. State Rep. By The Inspector Of Police [Criminal Appeal No. 1248/2021]

Click here to read/download the Order