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COVID-19 : Bombay HC (Goa Bench) Expresses Satisfaction, Says State Authorities Are Making Efforts To Combat Pandemic

30 March 2020 4:05 PM GMT
COVID-19 : Bombay HC (Goa Bench) Expresses Satisfaction, Says State Authorities Are Making Efforts To Combat Pandemic
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The Bombay High Court (Goa Bench) on Monday expressed satisfaction of the measures taken by the Goa administration in combating COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice M S Sonak disposed of the Petitions by passing an order observing that the response filed by the Secretary (Health) has addressed issues raised by the Petitioner as well as other issues in relation to the steps taken for combating the pandemic.

Justice Sonak observed that a Standard Operating Procedures/Protocols, have already been evolved and the same have been sent to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for approval. He also observed that the response acknowledges that the safety of the doctors and staff is of paramount importance and that steps are being taken to provide full Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the doctors and staff, which includes but is not restricted to providing necessary masks, hand sanitizers etc. and that all doctors and staff have been provided with chemo prophylaxis with over 17,000 tablets hydroxylchloroquine as per the ICMR guidelines to protect them from developing any serious COVID complications.

On the aspect of ventilators, Sonak, J observed that the response filed by the Secretary (Health) sets out the number of ventilators presently available but more importantly there is a statement that orders have been placed to procure almost 200 additional ventilators. Justice Sonak further held that there is no reason to even doubt that the State will not take all efforts to procure these additional ventilators at the earliest.

In para 15 of the order, Justice Sonak observed,

"In matters of this nature, particularly, considering the proportion of pandemic, it is futile to expect any full proof measures. However, from the material placed before this Court, it is apparent that the State and its authorities are alive to their responsibilities and making efforts to combat this pandemic. The response also speaks about the orders placed or steps taken to procure additional equipment facilities. Again, there is no doubt to suppose that these matters will not be pursued with urgency."

The Court was considering the letter petition filed by two law graduates i.e. Mr Jay Mathew and Gauravvardhan Nadkarni with respect to inadequacy of medical facilities in the state of Goa for combating the deadly Corona Virus. After the court took cognizance of the letter, an intervention application came to be filed in the matter on 30.03.2020 by one Mr. Uday Anand Chari, working as a Staff Nurse in Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour, Goa. The intervenor was represented by Adv. Ryan Menezes. The intervention application, inter alia, suggested several measures regarding quarantining of infected and suspect patients of Covid-19, facilities to be provided to the health care workers attending to the Covid-19 patients etc, that could be adopted to contain the Covid-19 outbreak in the State of Goa.

There was also  another letter petition by a local lawyer Adv. Chaitanya Padgaonkar who suggested several measures that could be adopted by the Government of Goa for containment of the COVID-19 outbreak with a focus on procurement of PPEs and essential medical equipment as also sanitization of Hospitals and measures to be taken to make the lockdown in the state of Goa effective through a centralized web application. The letter petition of Adv. Padgaonkar was treated as an Intervention application in the Petition filed by the two law graduates on 27.03.2020 and the same was heard along with the Petition filed Mr Jay Mathew and Gauravvardhan Nadkarni and the Intervention application filed by Mr. Uday Chari.

The State of Goa was represented by Advocate General Mr. Devidas Pangam. The State placed on record a detailed response dated 30.03.2020 stating that the state has substantially complied with all the issues raised in the Petition signed by the Secretary (Health), Government of Goa. The matter was heard by a bench comprising of Justice M S Sonak.

With respect to the intervention application filed by Mr. Uday Chari, Justice Sonak was of the view that the applicant, was at liberty to make such suggestions to the Secretary (Health) and that there is no doubt that such suggestions will be taken into consideration by the Secretary (Health) and the State Administration.

With respect to the letter petition filed by Advocate Mr. Chaitanya Padgaonkar, Justice Sonak was of the view that the issues raised by Adv. Padgaonkar to a great extent overlapped with the main letter petition and that he too is at liberty to address email to the Secretary (Health).  

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