Prisoners have right to medical records: Bombay HC hearing plea by Bharadwaj kin

The state had informed the court last week that Bharadwaj was to be taken to state-run JJ Hospital for a check-up.

THE BOMBAY High Court on Friday said that prisoners are entitled to access their own medical records. A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade also said that prisoners should be allowed to make a phone call to a family member after a hospital visit.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Maaysha Singh, the daughter of lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad case. Singh had sought immediate medical treatment and interim medical bail for her mother citing her history of ailments and the surge in Covid-19 cases reported in Byculla women’s prison, where she is lodged.

“In our view, a prisoner has the right to medical records under Article 21. All medical records, including the tests conducted and medicines prescribed can be given to the petitioner. We go a step further to say that this order should apply to all prisoners,” the court said, adding that the facility to make a phone call to an approved family member should also be allowed by following protocol.

Singh had said in her plea last week that her mother was not being given medical treatment despite her co-morbidity and there had been no response to emails and calls made by the lawyers to the jail.

The state had informed the court last week that Bharadwaj was to be taken to state-run JJ Hospital for a check-up.

Advocates Yug Mohit Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy appearing for Singh said that since Bharadwaj was given medical treatment, they were not pressing for other reliefs sought in the plea, including interim bail on medical grounds.

They had submitted last week said that Bharadwaj was kept in a prison ward with 50 other women without any possibility of physical distancing. After today’s order, they said that Bharadwaj suffered for three weeks before she was given treatment after the court was approached.

“This order acknowledging a prisoner’s right to her own medical records and granting phone calls after visits will go a long way in alleviating the distress of many prisoners and their anxious families who otherwise require litigation to get information about their own medical condition,” Roy said.

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