Ranchi, Sept. 9: Jharkhand High Court today took serious note of the fact that a number of high-profile prisoners of Birsa Munda Central Jail were seeking refuge in Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) on the pretext of illness to avoid jail.
The high court directed the inspector-general (prisons) to co-ordinate with the commandant of the military hospital in Namkum to have the influential prisoners examined by a medical board of army doctors within a fortnight.
The medical board, after examining the prisoners, will submit a report to the high court.
The court of Justice H.C. Mishra, while hearing a petition initiated suo motu on the basis of a news report published on September 3, had ordered the RIMS superintendent to file a detailed report on these prisoners and their respective ailments for which they were undergoing treatment at the hospital.
The RIMS report, which was submitted to the court today, revealed that of the 12 cottages in the hospital, six were occupied by “high-profile” prisoners — former Ranchi mayor Rama Khalkho, Simdega zilla parishad chairperson and wife of former minister Anosh Ekka Menon Ekka, businessman and Congress party leader Niranjan Sharma, suspended IAS Pradeep Kumar, former minister Nalin Soren and realtor Pawan Kumar Singh. They were admitted to the hospital for headache, chest pain and hypertension, RIMS counsel Rajesh Kumar told the court.
Kumar further said the prisoners were first checked by the jail doctor, who carried out preliminary investigations of their ailments. Then the prisoners were put before a medical board constituted by the district civil surgeon, after which they were sent to RIMS for assessment and treatment of their illnesses.
Transferring the case to the division bench, Justice Mishra observed that the cottages in RIMS were being let out to prisoners to undergo treatment and medical investigation for chest pain and headaches. Some of the patients had been in the hospital for more than a month and yet examination of their ailments had not been completed, the court said.
The judge further said proper guidelines ought to be formulated by the high court for treatment of such prisoners, who become sick soon after they get jail terms. Moreover, these patients also don’t have any history of ailments.
The court further ordered that if the prisoners, who would be checked by the army medical board, were found to be genuinely sick and needed treatment, they would be kept in RIMS, else they would be sent back to the jail.
Justice Mishra also indicated in his order that action would be initiated against officials and doctors if they were found guilty of helping these undertrials.
Earlier, while hearing a PIL filed by Durga Oraon in December 2011, the high court had ordered a similar probe into the health of jailed politicians, including former chief minister Madhu Koda and his colleagues involved in the disproportionate assets case. The military hospital had found most of the prisoners to be not so serious. They were eventually sent back to prison.