Trade Unionist illegally Quarantined; Bombay High Court directs State & BMC to file a Reply

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The State Government and the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, formerly Bombay Municipal Corporation) were directed to file a reply to the Habeas Corpus petition filed by a member of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

It was claimed by the Trade Union that one of their members was “illegally quarantined” by the authorities. In the case of Mahendra Singh Vs.Commissioner of Police & Ors. (30th April 2020), at the High Court of Judicature at Bombay in Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction, the above issue was heard.

Brief Facts of the Case

A member of CITU, Narayan was providing food and other supplies to the poor and migrant workers. Meanwhile, CITU had declared protest regarding the practices of social distancing. Narayan (and two others) who was carrying a placard, was approached by the police. Later, in Jogeshwari, an STPCR test was done and he was later sent off to BMC’s quarantine-facility in Andheri, Bombay.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The learned senior counsel for the Petitioner, Gayathri Singh submitted that:

  1. The Petitioner has been quarantined in breach of the applicable guidelines (revised guidelines for COVID-19), and ;
  2. In any event, there is no need to quarantine him in an institution as the guidelines envisage that the person can be home-quarantined.
  3. The STPCR test of the Petitioner has been negative and that the Petitioner is otherwise asymptomatic.

She also pointed out to the Court that the results of the test conducted on April 21 were released the next day but it was not revealed to the petitioner until April 29.

  1. As per the oral undertaking on the previous date on behalf of the Respondents, the Petitioner has been provided with clothes, and the mobile handset has been returned by the police.

Respondent’s Arguments

The learned counsel for the Respondents submitted that the Petitioner has been quarantined following the guidelines. They seek time to file their reply on record-setting out the circumstances under which the Petitioner has been quarantined in an institution.

Mr Thakre, Learned Public Prosecutor points out that the Petitioner has been quarantined, in the first instance for 14 days, which would expire on 3rd or 4th May 2020.

Court’s Verdict

Justice Bhadang observed:

“It appears that there are two contrary versions as to the circumstances, in which the Petitioner is being quarantined in an institution.”

In light of the above issue, the respondents are asked to file a reply and serve an advance copy on the learned senior counsel for the Petitioner and the next date of hearing has been scheduled on 5th April 2020.


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