In WP(C)(PIL) No.09/2020, a petition taken on its own motion by the Court to monitor the COVID care activities in the State. A division bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice Akil Kureshi and Hon’ble Justice S Talapatra dealt with the updates and progress details of pandemic related initiatives and programmes by the State government.
The court on its own motion initiated a writ petition in the public interest to consider certain issues of health and hygiene amidst the pandemic based on newspaper reports that have pointed out to serious shortcomings in the public health care system. Court had ordered the Government to file an affidavit with explanations regarding the number of corona cases, hospital beds for treatment both govt and private, steps taken to update patients about health conditions, details of fund allocation to hospitals, availability of medical staff, treatment centres and medical equipment. Following which the govt filed an affidavit on 18th September with details citing three factors for rising deaths: not using mask properly, not maintaining social distance and late admission to hospitals. Court then directed the govt, to provide certain additional details regarding steps taken to ensure adherence to COVID norms and hygiene practices by the public.
Counsel who is the learned Advocate General, assisting the court as Amicus Curiae submitted that the State Government conducted special drives for violation of directives for wearing masks in public. Further details regarding corona cases had been provided, Counsel explained the drop in the number of testing over the period due to Government’s decision to stop testing every person landing at the airport, railway station as well as in international borders which was previously done. Further, he also submitted that the government has taken measures to place a ceiling on treatment fee and that there were two internal reports regarding the quality of medical equipment.
Court’s Observation and Conclusion
Court ordered that the State Government must:
i) ensure that violations for not wearing masks in public are detected and penalty collected as per rules;
ii) publish the record of people being tested every 24 hrs along with the current publication of statistics with respect to corona positive cases and deaths;
iii) An action report of implementing the recommendations of the Central Expert Team needs to be filed;
iv) a team comprising of senior doctors and administrators must be formed to periodically visit COVID hospitals and make suggestions and recommendations to the government;
v) If any rates have been fixed for treatment, the same has to be stated in an affidavit;
vi) the details of the inquiry into the quality of medical equipment need to be disclosed. Further also observed that the spared resources due to reduced testing at certain points need to be used for testing more people staying in the State.
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