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Supreme Court Orders the Ministry of Health to Issue Directions for the Regulation of Disinfectants Used on People Due to COVID-19

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The Full Bench of the Supreme Court stated that the Ministry of Health is required to regulate the usage of disinfectants on human beings. Although the Ministry has not recommended the use of such disinfectants, adequate guidelines have to be issued within a month.

Brief Facts of the Case

A writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. It was seeking direction to ban the spraying of disinfectants on human beings for protection from the COVID-19.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had stated that spraying of disinfectant on human beings is not recommended. But the Union of India has not taken any step to stop the use or advertisement of chemical-based disinfection tunnels.

There is no study by any credible health agency in the world which states that human disinfection tunnels are effective against COVID-19. There are enough health advisories by the WHO that tunnels are counter-productive and harmful for human health. Also, there has been no advisory recommending the usage of any organic solution for disinfection. This had caused a trend across the country where people are producing self-certified safe disinfection tunnels with a variety of organic solutions. 

The concept of “human disinfection” through a walk-in tunnel is flawed. It cannot be permitted in light of the Right to Health under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Respondent’s Arguments

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had not issued any advisory for the usage of a disinfection tunnel involving the spraying of chemicals or organic disinfectants for disinfection. 

Court’s Observations

The Court noted that the Respondent had not taken any further steps in the above context. No measures were taken to prevent or regulate the spraying of disinfectant on the human body.

The advisory issued by the Respondent stated that the use of disinfectant on the human body is not recommended. This has also been brought into its notice that despite the said advisory, a large number of organizations, public authorities are using disinfectants on the human body.

Thus, the Court opined that the Respondent needed to issue necessary directions either to prevent such use or regulate such use as per the need to protect the health of the people.

Some more actions by the Respondent were required to remove the cloud of uncertainty and to regulate the use of such disinfectants. Even if it was to either prevent such use or regulate, further guidelines is pertinent so that the health of citizens is amply protected.

Court’s Decision

The Court ordered the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to issue directions about the ban or regulation of disinfection tunnels involving spraying or fumigation of chemical/organic disinfectants on human beings. The exposure of human beings to UV rays must be considered in the guidelines.

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