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"Public At Large Has Been Callous, Negligent & Irresponsible": Himachal Pradesh High Court Issues Directions For Govt. To Tackle COVID19

Sparsh Upadhyay
4 Dec 2020 12:26 PM GMT
Public At Large Has Been Callous, Negligent & Irresponsible: Himachal Pradesh High Court Issues Directions For Govt. To Tackle COVID19
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Noticing the steep surge in COVID-19 cases, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday (03rd December) issued ssveral directions for the State Government to tackle COVID cases in the State.While observing that it is not the Government which is solely responsible for the rise in COVID Cases, the Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua also...

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Noticing the steep surge in COVID-19 cases, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday (03rd December) issued ssveral directions for the State Government to tackle COVID cases in the State.

While observing that it is not the Government which is solely responsible for the rise in COVID Cases, the Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua also observed,

"The public at large has also exhibited behaviour which is nothing short of being callous, negligent and irresponsible."

Subsequently, on Thursday (03rd December), after due deliberations, the Court issued the following directions for the time being to tackle the steep surge in COVID-19 cases:-

[NOTE: The list is not exhaustive. For complete list of directions issued by the HC, please refer to the Order attached with this story.]

  • * The State shall ensure that senior doctors in all the notified COVID hospitals visit the ward on regular basis in accordance with the instructions issued by the Government.
  • * The State is directed to ramp up the testing by adopting the approved measures by associating private Labs or their technicians, or both.
  • * It shall be mandatory for the sample collecting authority to obtain contact number, e-mail id, if any, apart from other details like age, address etc. at the time of taking samples, so that the result of the test can be communicated on e-mail, whatsapp etc. Such report be supplied in a time bound manner and in no event beyond 48 hours, bearing in mind the necessary protocols.
  • * Wide publicity be given in the news, print and social media regarding testing that are to be conducted in walk-in kiosk in all the towns like Shimla, Mandi, Dharamshala, Kullu, Solan, Una, Hamirpur, Bilaspur etc. for the collection of samples during the pre-fixed time every day.
  • * A dedicated helpline in all the COVID Hospitals be notified so that the family members, near and dear ones of the COVID patients can get in touch with such patients to know about his/her wellbeing etc.
  • * Such patients, who are willing to afford, be permitted to have trained nursing attendant at their own costs as this would be a long way to reduce the burden on the hospital staff.
  • * It be ensured that wrapping up of the dead body(ies) of those COVID patients, who unfortunately succumb to the disease, under no circumstances is/are carried out/done in the Ward and the body is removed immediately from the Ward.

[NOTE: It may be noted that a letter petition has been sent to the Supreme Court, seeking its indulgence to issue directions/ guidelines for a "uniform protocol" to deal with dead bodies in hospitals and mortuaries throughout the country.

The representation has been made by former Union Law Minister, Dr. Ashwani Kumar, in the backdrop of 'heart wrenching' incident in a UP hospital reported across media, showing a dog nibbling away at the remains of a dead girl dumped on a stretcher in a corridor inside a hospital.]

  • * It be ensured that the toilets are kept in clean and hygenic condition round a clock and a dedicated helpline be provided to the patients, in case, they have any complaint regarding not only the toilets but other facilities.
  • * The State may also consider making COVID test mandatory for the people entering the State from the outside.
  • * The rules regarding the wearing of mask, social distancing and quarantine be strictly enforced by associating not only the local police but also by engaging the employees of the Municipal Corporation, Home Department and local volunteers.
  • It be ensured that no person or family is ostracised by the Society only because the family is COVID positive.

[NOTE: the High Court of Orissa, in August 2020 disposed of a PIL filed by Advocate Ananga Kumar Otta against disclosure of personal details/ identities of Covid patients.

The bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice S. Pujahari held that the State has to uphold the right to privacy of the patients by preserving their identities.

The High Court had cautioned the authorities to ensure that in case they reveal the identity of a Covid patient/ suspect, the same is done in accordance with the law, i.e., it satisfies the 'Triple test' as laid down by the Supreme Court in the right to privacy judgment (KS Puttaswamy & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.)

Also, the Supreme Court on Thursday (03rd December) reserved judgment in the plea which has challenged the decision of various states Governments to affix posters outside the homes of COVID19 patients who are in isolation.

On December 1, top court had observed that the practice of conspicuously affixing posters outside the residence of COVID19 positive patients creates stigma and often leads to a situation where patients may be treated as so called "untouchables".]

  • * No social or public gathering shall be permitted henceforth without the prior approval of the Magistrate with intimation to the local police station who shall then be duty bound to ensure that such gathering does not exceed the prescribed limit. In addition thereto, it shall also be the duty and responsibility of the office bearers of the Panchayati Raj Institutions and local urban bodies, as the case may be, to ensure that the protocols and procedures including wearing of mask, social distancing, home isolation, public gathering etc. are strictly adhered to.
  • * The general public be educated about COVID19 by hoardings, messages through Radio, T.V., booklets etc. by convincing them that it is a collective fight by the society and no one should violate the regulations, procedures and protocols.
  • * The people should also be educated about the infection of the Corona, its prevention and treatment. xxii. Similar exercise shall be taken by all the Secretaries, State Legal Services Authority at their own level and through the PLV's etc.
  • * The Director General of Police is directed to depute extra police personnel(s) from the battalion and other places so as to ensure that no one unnecessarily leaves or enter the containment zones.
  • * All those involved in COVID duties irrespective of their rank and files, are restrained from going on strike/dharna and, in case, any one of them have any difficulty, then they are at liberty to approach this Court individually or through the learned Amicus Curiae for redressal thereof, but under no circumstances they would resort to arm twisting by resorting to strike or dharna.
  • * In case, any one of them resort(s) to such mis-adventure, then in addition to any other action, which respondentsState may take including blacklisting the firm(s), terminating the services of such employees, he/they shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished for contempt under the Contempt of Courts Act, for deliberately disobeying the directions of the Court.
  • * Adequate provisions be made for diet, rest etc. for those who have been deputed in connection with COVID-19 duties and if found necessary, assistance of NGOs, Charitable Institutions may be taken.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on Thursday (10.12.2020).

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]


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