12 Jun 2021 3:22 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court on Friday adjourned its suo moto PIL on Covid-19 management citing 'paucity of time'. This is a third consecutive adjournment of the case which has previously handed down several bold orders amid wrath of the deadly virus in Uttar Pradesh. Following change in roster since June 7, a Division Bench of then Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Prakash...
The Allahabad High Court on Friday adjourned its suo moto PIL on Covid-19 management citing 'paucity of time'. This is a third consecutive adjournment of the case which has previously handed down several bold orders amid wrath of the deadly virus in Uttar Pradesh.
Following change in roster since June 7, a Division Bench of then Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Prakash Padia took over the matter. In four days, this Bench has adjourned the case thrice, i.e., on every date of listing being June7, June 8 and June 10.
The last substantial order in the case was passed by the Bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar on May 27, where it directed the Central Government to come up with a stand with regard to vaccination of physically challenged persons, who find it difficult to approach the vaccination centres.
Significantly, about 2.2 crore vaccine doses have been administered in the state. However, the number is meagre as against a population of 19.96 (as per 2011 census provisional data) residing in the state. This culminates into 1.7% of the total population being fully vaccinated and 8.1% population being administered single dose.
The Bench had also taken on record an application seeking directions relevant for combating the outbreak of Black Fungus infection. The same will come up before the new Bench, as and when the matter is taken up.
The three adjournments cited above, are the only adjournments granted in the duration of one year of this case. The previous Bench which presided over the matter, proactively monitored the situation in India's most populous state. Some of its orders are summarized below:
The previous Bench minced no words in holding the State Government responsible for rampant deaths in the state due to shortage of Oxygen supply for treatment of Covid-19 patients.
"Death of Covid patients just for non supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen," Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar had said.
It thereafter ordered an enquiry into reported incidents and sought a report within 48 hours.
Establishment Of Public Grievance Cells
To empower the common man bearing the brunt of both the pandemic and mismanagement of medical infrastructure, the High Court directed the UP Government to open, within 48 hours, a "Public Grievance Cell" in every district so that
(i) people may directly approach and get their complaints regarding Covid management registered and examined; and
(ii) viralled news regarding Covid management may be looked into.
'Ram Bharose' Order
Taking stock of medical and healthcare infrastructure in small towns and rural areas of the state, the High Court remarked that situation in UP is 'Ram Bharose' (at the mercy of God). In this order, the Bench suggested several measures for boosting medical infrastructure in the State within four months and asked the State to come up with a definite report.
This order was later stayed by the Supreme Court as unrealistic and difficult to implement.
Compensation for Polling Officers
Noting that the State Government forced its employees to serve as polling officers in the middle of raging pandemic, the High Court observed that the State must grant at least Rs. 1 crore as ex-gratia compensation to the families of those who succumbed to the virus post election duty. It stated that compensation of Rs. 30 lakh announced by the UP Government is very less.
In April, when the second wave of Covid-19 was causing a havoc across the country and medical infrastructure was virtually incapacitated, the High Court imposed a Lockdown in five major cities of UP including Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur. It observed that before the coronavirus further spirals to engulf in it the entire population of these badly hit districts, it is necessary to take some harsh steps in larger public interest. This order was however stayed by the Supreme Court the next day.
Protection of Migrants
In May 2020, when Migrant labours were rendered jobless and were forced to return to their hometowns due to sudden imposition of nation-wide Lockdown by the Central Government, the High Court ordered for appointment of one officer over groups of every 400 migrants, to keep a regular check on their health and living conditions.
The only pseudo-adjournment that was given by the previous Bench was on May 22, where State's request seeking time for taking instructions as to the manner in which the public health system would be geared up, was allowed.
On May 27, the same Bench appreciated the efforts made by the Uttar Pradesh Government for enhancing the medical infrastructure in 5 districts. However, a report on medical functionality at five more districts, namely, Bhadohi, Ghazipur, Ballia, Deoria and Shamli, was sought and the same is pending consideration.
The State, at the time of writing this article, has over 12,000 active cases— 227 in Shamli, 222 in Deoria, 188 in Gazipur.
The matter is now likely to be listed next week. Meanwhile, ACJ Yadav has been appointed as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court vide notification dated June 10.