Coming down heavily on lockdown violators, including people not wearing masks properly, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court asked the police in 11 Marathwada districts, in Maharashtra, to take strict action against such violators.
All persons wearing a mask below the chin or exposing their nose shall be booked for under relevant offenses as such people turn out to be SUPER SPREADERS, a division bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and BU Debadwar said.
The bench also directed the local authorities to take action against any politician or people's representative trying to save such violators and book them for causing interference in the discharge of duties by public servants.
Ministers or elected representatives shall not exert pressure or influence on any traffic official or law enforcement agency for extricating violators. Any such person or people's representative shall also be booked for causing interference in the discharge of official duties.
"I wear a mask even when I go jogging, but we find that youngsters are traveling triple-seat and even four persons on a single motorcycle without a helmet and masks. Residents in our jurisdiction need to practice restraint & discipline," Justice Ghuge said.
The bench passed several directions, on Monday, while issuing notice to the respondents in its suo motu PIL on covid management in Marathwada, based on newspaper reports.
The issues are related to the cumbersome documentation process for conducting a Covid-19 deceased's last rites, rampant black marketing of the anti-viral drug, Remdesivir, problems related to oxygen supply in the region, lockdown violations, and Antigen testing kits in primary Covid Care Centers in rural Maharashtra.Wear a mask while riding the motorbike, driving a car, and carry an Aadhaar card
During the hearing, the bench asked law enforcement agencies to take action against people failing to wear helmets and masks even when in their vehicles. Moreover, those traveling after the Monday-Friday relaxation hours of 7 am-11 pm, must carry their Aadhaar Cards to validate reasons for travel. The restriction would apply to medical professionals and government officials, not on duty.Plan Electric crematoriums.
Taking cognizance of news reports that people at funeral ghats are seeking bribes and kerosene is being used the bench ordered the Divisional Commissioner of Aurangabad to consider initiating steps for setting up electric crematoriums.
"There shall be a constant check to ensure the relatives of the dead person are not harassed and money is not extracted from them for performing the funeral rites."
The bench further directed that relatives of the deceased performing the funeral rights will not be required to seek permission of the local police station if the number of people attending is within limits. Those exceeding the limits must be booked, the bench said.Black Marketing of Remdesivir
In so far as persons found to have sold Remdesivir injections at premium prices (nothing short of black marketing) shall be booked under relevant IPC sections. The establishment would initiate disciplinary action against in-service persons (regarding black marketing of Remdesivir)Lauds Maharashtra's efforts for Oxygen management ideas
Taking note of the meetings conducted by the Divisional Commissioner of Aurangabad, in which he has urged private hospitals to have their own oxygen manufacturing plants, the bench observed,
"We find the said suggestion to be highly appreciable and we record our appreciation for the steps being initiated by the state of Maharashtra as is reflected in the news items,"
The court directed high priority to be given to private hospitals seeking these permissions, subject to safety protocols. "This should be subject to the safety protocols to not repeat the incidents of Nashik and Virar," the bench said.
Regarding news reports that private hospitals are discharging some critical patients, the bench observed "We find such situations to be extremely disturbing and it would be unconscionable."
- Use alternatives to Remdesivir
The bench noted that there are several news reports wherein the Divisional Commissioner of Aurangabad is seen asking people to use alternatives of Remdesivir, like Tocilizumab and Itolizumab and Virafin to help in the treatment of covid, and these drugs are equally effective in absence of Remdesivir.
The Bench directed that awareness be created to stop the insistence of the Remdesivir injection, especially as Virafin is a drug with equal potency. By keeping in view that a single dose of Virafin is equivalent to 6 doses of Remdesivir.
"Hospitals are demanding Remdesivir because it has become widely known to help covid-19 patients. But if hospitals don't use alternatives and the whole State demands Remdesivir, it puts pressure on manufacturing and creates a shortage."
- Supply Antigen Testing Kits to Primary Health Care Centres
The court noted an intervenor's submissions that rural parts of Nanded, in Maharashtra, are being ignored and several patients were traveling due to a lack of health infrastructure, which was increasing the mortality rate.
Appreciating the concern, the court directed civic authorities to ensure rapid antigen test kits are provided to primary health care centers in all 12 districts and submit a statement to the court on May 3, on the progress.
We know that Antigen can also be a false negative, but a positive is a clear indicator of being covid positive, the bench said.
The Aurangabad Bench took noted that the Nagpur Bench that recently directed the State to provide 10,000 vials of Remdesivir for the District, after it was pointed out that there was an inequitable distribution of the medicines.
We want to clarify; we don't intend to grab the share of testing kits or Remdesivir injections from any other district. We are aware of the criticism faced by the Nagpur Bench. We will say, follow your distribution policy and ensure timely supply, the bench said.