In an extraordinary move, the Telangana High Court on Thursday directed the State Government to mandatorily conduct Covid19 tests on dead bodies so as to effectuate contact-tracing of the deadly virus.
The Court also directed the State Government to file an updated status report encompassing the strategy for purposes of conducting Coronavirus tests on dead bodies and issued notice to the Centre as well, seeking its response on the procedures being followed for dealing with the virus.
A bench of Justices M.S. Ramachandra Rao & K. Lakshman was hearing a PIL filed on behalf of Prof. P.L. Vishweshwar Rao challenging the inaction of the State Governnment and concerned authorities of conducting Covid19 tests on dead bodies as well notifying specified Covid19 bedded hospitals other than, in the area of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
In light of a previous order dated May 12, the court had directed the Respondent(s) to submit a detailed report regarding steps taken by the concerned authorities in Telangana to control COVID19 as per stipulated guidelines of th Health Ministry.
Petitioner's counsel, Advocate Chikkudu Prabhakar pointed out the outright lack of strategy viz. conducting Covid19 tests on dead bodies without paying head to the ICMR notifications of March 24 & April 13 in the said status report.
Prabhakar further informed the court that it is requisite upon the government to have a person tested, traced, isolated or treated for the disease as per guidelines of the WHO.
While highlighting the innate need to test people who have died for Covid19 samples, Advocate Prabhakar further presented before the court the recent cases of doctors in Nellore and Kurnool of Andhra Pradesh, who were tested positive after their death. Accordingly, while emphasising on the need for strategising dead-body samples, he also pointed out the lack of Covid19 testing in Italy & USA which led to a surge in Covid19 positive cases and deaths.
In this backdrop, the court expressed displeasure with the report submitted on behalf of the Director of Medical and Health Department, citing the report to be "vague" and incomplete.
The court, while adjourning the matter to May 26 as the next date of hearing, directed the state to strictly comply with the guidelines issued by the WHO and ICMR to conduct Covid19 sampling on dead bodies.
The PIL inter alia has averred that inaction of part of the Government authorities circumvents the Constitutional guarantee of Right To Life as non-testing of dead bodies for COVID19 defeats the inundated and ongoing process of contact-tracing.
Further, the petition states that only notifying hospitals in a certain area for COVID19 other than the present notified hospitals for Covid19 patients (in GHMC area in the present case) is in abrogation of the "protection of the right to life in Urban, Sub-urban & Rural public at large".
Furthermore, the plea states that this inaction of providing "trained staff, medical equipments and medicines as illegal arbitray, discriminatory, unreasonable, unfair, unjust, unlawful, unconstitutional, whimsical, perverse, mockery, inhumane, bad in law, rid with ulterior motive and against Article 14, 19 & 21."