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Delhi HC tells convict released over Covid fears




Delhi High Court (Representational image) | Twitter: @ANI
Delhi High Court (Representational image) | Twitter: @ANI

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday directed a 73-year-old man convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to “drop-a-pin” on Google Maps every Friday to allow the police to verify his location.

The 10-year sentence of convict Babu Lal was temporarily suspended for three months after Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani took note of his medical condition and the “need to decongest prisons” over Covid-19 fears.

The court also directed Lal to make a video call every Friday between 11 am and 11:30 am to the investigating or station house officer (SHO) of the police station.

“The appellant will make a video-call every Friday between 11 am and 11:30 am to the Investigating Officer, and in case the Investigating Officer is no longer in service or is otherwise unavailable, then to the SHO of the Police Station where the case was registered and also ‘drop-a-pin’ on Google maps, so that the IO/SHO can verify the appellant’s presence and location,” the judge said.

Lal was directed to give a phone number to the jail superintendent and asked to ensure that this number is kept active and switched-on at all times.

Lal was convicted under the POCSO Act for sexually assaulting a minor and had been in jail since 24 February 2020, when his sentence was pronounced. He has also paid a fine of Rs 10,000 levied by the court. Lal had sought a temporary suspension of his sentence, citing old age and medical condition.

Also read: This is how prisons across India plan to release and track 34,000 inmates

Convict’s suffers from high blood sugar and BP

During the hearing on 13 April, the court demanded a report on Lal’s medical condition from the jail superintendent. This report showed Lal had high blood sugar levels and he also suffered from high blood pressure.

Lal’s lawyer, Amit Chauhan, had however said this report did not reflect the convict’s medical condition accurately. Lal’s previous medical complications, said Chauhan, make it “medically unsafe” for him to remain in prison due to Covid-19.

Advocate Asha Tiwari, appearing for the Delhi government, had opposed Lal’s plea for suspension of sentence. But the court noted that she did not counter the submission that Lal was in a medically vulnerable position in prison.

Allowing Lal’s application, Justice Bhambhani then observed: “Although the record shows that the applicant has only been in prison since 24.02.2020 which was the date the sentencing order was passed; and that he has been convicted of heinous offences under the POCSO Act, in the unprecedented circumstances of a public health emergency that prevail today and the consequent need to decongest prisons for the overall medical safety of all prisoners, this court is persuaded to grant to the appellant interim suspension of sentence for a period of three months.”

Lal’s sentence was consequently suspended, subject to payment of a period bond of Rs 50,000.

Also read: 45 PSA detainees & 159 other prisoners released from J&K jails due to Covid-19

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown

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