In the PIL filed by 42-year-old Mumbai resident Sagar Jondhale, the State government filed its reply listing out various steps being taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 or Novel Coronavirus. Maharashtra has the highest number of positive cases in India.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice BP Dharmadhikari and Justice NR Borkar heard the PIL on Monday and asked the State to file a reply on Tuesday.
Government Pleader P Kakade informed the bench that local trains and buses in Mumbai were being cleaned with sodium hydrochloride solution and schools, colleges have been shut. University examinations have been postponed and public places like cinema halls, museums, gymnasiums, swimming pools etc have been closed.
The Maharashtra Public Service Commission has also postponed its scheduled examinations. Furthermore, a high power committee led by the chief secretary of the state, and various heads of 21 departments, was monitoring the steps being taken to keep the spread of the virus in check, Kakade said.
Also, the bench was told that a request has been sent by the State to the Railways to create facilities where passengers can be screened in a manner similar to those adopted by the domestic and international airports in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak (like Thermal Screening) but a response is yet to be received.
The PIL contends that India must also amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 as provisions of the said act are insufficient to handle the present situation which is grave.
Apart from amending the said act, the petitioner has suggested directions to the respondent authorities to set up the Epidemic Disease Control Board in order to "take immediate steps for prevention and spreading of epidemic diseases."
Although the petitioner had cited examples of other states and sought a declaration of holidays in all schools and colleges, and directions to private Companies to allow the employees to avail work from Home facilities etc, in order to prevent a large crowd from gathering at one place, these steps have already been taken by the State government and private companies by and large.