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Gujarat High Court Stresses on Transparency of the State Government With Regard to COVID-19 Situation

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Case: SUO MOTU Versus STATE OF GUJARAT

Excerpt

The High Court of Ahmedabad, Gujarat on Thursday had issued a new set of orders for the state government to follow and adhere to in the plight of the rising number of covid-19 cases in Gujarat. All the six-pointers were issued, directed towards maintaining a degree of transparency in publicizing testing data, data related to the amenities available, and infrastructure status, to build a notch of trust among the public. 

 

Facts

The Suo moto cognizance was heard by Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Kania. The Court had made certain suggestions on the matter at the hearing on 12.04.2021, to which the state had filed an Affidavit-in-reply. 

 

The Court had taken into consonance every aspect related to and affected by the ongoing Covid-19 situation and observed that the data of the people testing positive was not matching up to those who were found to be infected with Covid. Thus, the Court stated that “The State had nothing to gain by hiding the real picture and hence suppression and concealment of accurate data would generate more serious problems including fear, loss of trust, panic amongst the public at large.”

 

Observations by the Court  

The Court had made some very valid points stating that the State should not feel shy of publishing the correct data of RT-PCR testing results if such figures have not been correctly reported. On the number of testing being done, it said that the State should publish data by making efforts to find out the actual number of Covid positive cases to remove general conception from the minds of the people that data given by the State was not accurate.

 

Further adding that the State must have come up publicly transparently and fairly with complete details and If there was a shortage of material, facility, or infrastructure, this was to be accepted by the State publicly and remedial steps taken immediately to improve the gravity of the situation. The State should also take it upon itself to provide correct data to “eliminate others from propagating the same with spice (spite) and causing panic amongst the people.” 

 

The court had pointed out that the State was not expected to provide all the amenities at the latest. However, if the people were assured that the state was aware of the situation and was trying to remedy the situation then it would instil confidence in them and they would be more cooperative with the State in general. 

Court’s Orders

The Court had also issued some other points of focus, including setting up RT-PCR laboratories in places where such amenities weren’t available with the help of private players. It also said that Efforts should be made to reduce the time required for the RT-PCR testing and getting the reports beforehand and that the accurate RTPCR testing figures should be made public along with figures of positive results. 

Enunciating that the online portal for updating information on the availability of beds and occupancy for all districts should be controlled by the state. A statement should be issued by the officer of state concerning the number of positive Covid patients, the number of deaths due to Covid, and the number of deaths due to comorbidities. 

 

Click here to view the Judgment

 


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