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"No Entry Into Goa Without A Negative COVID Report, No Violence Against Healthcare Professionals": Bombay High Court Issues More Directions

Nupur Thapliyal & Sparsh Upadhyay
6 May 2021 4:34 PM GMT
No Entry Into Goa Without A Negative COVID Report, No Violence  Against Healthcare Professionals: Bombay High Court Issues More Directions
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Bombay High Court, Bench at Goa on Thursday directed the Goa State Administration to ensure that no persons are permitted entry into the State without a negativity certificate issued within 72 hours from the time the travelers seek entry into the State. This interim direction shall come into effect from 10th May giving time to the State Administration to publicize such a...

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Bombay High Court, Bench at Goa on Thursday directed the Goa State Administration to ensure that no persons are permitted entry into the State without a negativity certificate issued within 72 hours from the time the travelers seek entry into the State.

This interim direction shall come into effect from 10th May giving time to the State Administration to publicize such a requirement. 

A division bench comprising of Justice MS Jawalkar and Justice MS Sonak further directed the State Government to immediately notify and publicize this requirement through the usual channels so that travelers are put to effective notice about the same.

"Therefore, by way of an interim order, we direct the State Administration to ensure that no persons are permitted entry into the State unless they possess a negativity certificate obtained within 72 hours from the time they seek entry into the State. This will not prevent the State Government from formulating a protocol to deal with the issues of essential supplies and the procedure for entry of the persons involved in essential supplies. This Protocol should however provide necessary safeguards to ensure that such persons are not COVID positive at the time of entry into the State." The bench ordered.

The Bench further issued a slew of directions as regards security measures for the protection of healthcare professionals, medical infrastructure, and supply of oxygen in the State.

The Court was dealing with a bunch of Public Interest Litigations filed seeking directions on the State authorities to ensure adequate supply of oxygen beds, covid 19 medicines for all patients in Goa, and also for ensuring security measures for doctors and medical personnel to avoid cases of harassment and violence against them in Covid 19 wards.

On Security Measures for Protection of Healthcare Professionals

Observing that a debt of gratitude is owed by everyone to the healthcare professionals "who have gone beyond the call of their duty and toiled day in and day out relentlessly without any rest amidst this serious crisis", the Court observed that "the minimum that we collectively owe to these healthcare professionals is security."

Noting that the patients and their relatives are also stressed during the pandemic situation, the Court however observed that a message must go out loud and clear that there will be zero tolerance for any form of physical or verbal violence against healthcare professionals.

"Accordingly, we direct the State Administration to take all steps necessary and adequate to ensure that there is no such violence against the healthcare professionals and such violence, if any, is dealt with firmly following the law. For this purpose, State Administration must post sufficient police personnel round the clock at hospitals, wards, etc. Sufficient boards or posters must also be put up at such places to make it clear that there will be zero tolerance towards any form of violence against healthcare professionals," the Court directed.

On Medical Infrastructure

The Court noted that it was important that the extent of facilities available must be put out in the public domain so that there is no scope for unnecessary anxiety or rumor-mongering.

Furthermore, the Court while noting that the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to formulate a National Policy on admissions to hospitals, directed the Centre to place on record if such policy has already been formulated for the State Governments to comply.

At the same time, the Court directed the State Administration to also indicate if it has formulated any policy in this regard and also to indicate the infrastructure presently available by the next date of hearing.

On Oxygen Supply

In pursuance of the Supreme Court directions for creating of virtual central control rooms, the Court directed the State Administration to file an affidavit as to the need of the State and whether this need is met by the supplies made from various sources. 

The Court also directed it to indicate whether any steps have been taken by State Administration for having plants for the manufacture of oxygen in the State of Goa itself.

"The State Administration should also file an affidavit indicating the position of stocks of essential medicines available in the State of Goa and the steps taken to augment the same, so that, we do not have a situation wherein patients succumb for want of these essential medicines." The Court directed.

On the aspect of testing and vaccination, the Court also directed the State Administration to file an affidavit indicating the position of vaccination drive in the State of Goa. 

"The affidavit to also indicate whether any facilities have been provided for the marginalized section of the society, the disabled or the senior citizens, who are unable to access the vaccination centers." The Court ordered.

About the Petitions

The first petition has been moved by the South Goa Advocates Association seeking directions on the Respondent authorities to ensure adequate supply of oxygen beds, covid 19 medicines for all patients in Goa and also for ensuring security measures for doctors and medical personnel to avoid cases of harassment and violence against them in Covid 19 wards.

The second petition has been moved by activists Armando Gonsalves and Shruti Chaturvedi seeking a common platform for information on bed availability, ICUs and oxygen in the state and imposition of a lockdown.

This plea argues that equitable treatment to all citizens in the state of Goa must be ensured. "This includes their obligations to provide to citizens who do not have the financial means to support their treatment, or face other difficulties such as access to medicine and food during these troubling times", adds the plea.

The plea prayed that immediate steps be taken to ensure the provision of adequate Oxygen, medicines, and plasma in the state, and make provision for equitable distribution of the same

The plea also sought directions to the State of Goa to fulfill its obligations under Section 2B of the Epidemic Diseases Act and provide police protection to doctors and all medical facilities.

It also sought directions that senior citizens, and the disabled who are unable to attend vaccination centers receive vaccinations at their homes/care centers and that immediate steps be taken to ensure the provision of adequate Oxygen, medicines, and plasma in the state, and make provision for equitable distribution of the same.

Advocates Akash Rebello, Rui Gomes Pereira and Varun Bhandanker appeared for the Petitioners in the matter.

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