The COVID-19 affected persons would criticize the work of civic authorities in media. The reports included a lack of essential services and quarantine centres. Hence, the order in the present matter informs the public to approach the Court directly.
Brief Facts of the Case
In March 2020, the Union Government declared nation-wide lockdown owing to the COVID- 19. The State Governments had to ensure medical facilities and provide essential services. Maharashtra, with high population density, has been combatting at its full strength. However, the aggrieved persons approach the news channels to address the short-comings.
Hence, the Bombay High Court has taken suo moto cognizance in the present matter. The judge inspected the rural places of Maharashtra in Jalna and Aurangabad.
The Court has noted no concrete steps to mitigate the alarming situation. The number of infected persons per day has been increasing in the districts. It observed decreasing cases in cities whereas the increase in the rural areas. The authorities failed to regulate the commutation between the areas. The infected people shifted from cities to their native place despite lockdown. Moreover, the village culture did not allow the information to reach the authorities.
The inspection revealed that no strict checking took place at the inter-district check-posts. It asserted that the authorities must follow up on the implementation of orders. A person also apprised the Court of the arbitrary mechanism of the authorities. Hence, the complainant must invoke the provisions under the special enactments. This will ensure an unbiased and impartial atmosphere within the staff members.
The Court has remarked on the video clip of an infected person covered by news channels. The person complained of breathlessness and an inadequate supply of oxygen. Similar incidents have been reported on several occasions. Thus, it stated- “When there is such kind of grievance, it becomes the duty of the concerned authorities to fix the responsibility and give the complaint to the police as such conduct is not less offence of than culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Unless action is taken against such persons, others will not improve their conduct.”
The Court has also received complaints against private hospitals. The administration charged expensive bills without any treatment to the patients. Moreover, the families also reported unnatural death in the hospital. Hence, the Court issued directions to install CCTV cameras in the isolation cells. Further, the court addressed the vulnerability of poor people during the pandemic. They cannot afford private hospitals and the public hospitals had no availability. They have no choice but to continue at their residential places. This also created ‘hotspots’ in rural areas which already lack medical facilities.
Justice M G. Sewlikar and Justice T. V. Talwade pronounced the judgement. On the basis of observations, the court found direct intervention appropriate. The affected persons can bring forth grievances like lack of essential services and unfair practices. They may also complain against the civic authorities and the hospital administration.
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