The Supreme Court on Monday took suo moto cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons across the country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and L N Rao issued a notice to the Director General, Prison, and chief secretary of all states and union territories seeking their response by March 20 on steps taken for prevention of COVID-19.
The court also asked all states and union territories to depute an officer on March 23 who could assist the court in the matter. The bench also took suo moto cognisance of conditions in remand homes where juveniles in conflict with law are lodged. It observed that some states have taken steps for the pandemic but there are some states which have not taken appropriate measures.
The court also cautioned that mass gathering is a big problem and it can become a centre for the spread of coronavirus. The court also said it will issue reasons on why it has taken suo moto cognisance of the matter.
"We need to formulate some guidelines, and directions should be issued with respect to overcrowding of prisons in wake of coronavirus," the bench said. The number of novel coronavirus cases in the country rose to 110 on Sunday, with Maharashtra reporting the highest followed by Kerala.
According to the Union Health Ministry, there are 110 cases in India so far, including two people who died in Delhi and Karnataka and 17 foreigners. Ten patients have been discharged.