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Your Ministers Can't Say That The Third Wave of COVID Has Peaked, Delhi HC Tells Delhi Govt While Directing Filing Of Fresh Status Reports

Karan Tripathi
20 Nov 2020 7:42 AM GMT
Your Ministers Cant Say That The Third Wave of COVID Has Peaked, Delhi HC Tells Delhi Govt While Directing Filing Of Fresh Status Reports
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The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi High Court after taking into consideration the status report filed by the Delhi Government highlighting the steps taken by it to manage the rising COVID-19 cases in Delhi, ordered a Fresh Status Report to be filed within one week on Thursday.While issuing the said direction, the court pulled up the Delhi Government...

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The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi High Court after taking into consideration the status report filed by the Delhi Government highlighting the steps taken by it to manage the rising COVID-19 cases in Delhi, ordered a Fresh Status Report to be filed within one week on Thursday.

While issuing the said direction, the court pulled up the Delhi Government on its media briefings on rising COVID19 cases in Delhi. The court said:

'Your ministers can't say to media that the third wave of the virus has peaked when the number of positive rises are still rising every day.'

It may be highlighted that vide order dated 11th November, 2020, the scope of the present petition had been extended by this court in the light of the fact that Delhi had been reeling under COVID-19 infection since the very beginning of November, 2020 and the daily figure of the infection had mounted to 8,593 cases as on 10th November, 2020, with 4016 Containment zones.

The High Court had enquired into the relaxation in public movement rules given in the festive season and the extremely poor quality of the air in Delhi, allowing the COVID-19 virus to survive for a longer duration thereby increasing the severity of the disease. The Government had also been asked to highlight concrete steps taken by it to ensure strict adherence to the norms of wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, adhering to norms of adequate hygiene, preventing crowding at public places/ public transports, making adequate arrangement for hospitalization of patients suffering from COVID-19 infection and others who require to be shifted to care homes.

In compliance with the direction of this court issued on 11th November, 2020, the Status Report dated 18th November, 2020, had been filed by Delhi Government. The Court was informed about the various steps and orders passed by the Disaster Management Authority from time to time, based on the Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Govt. of India, after assessing the local situation. Mr. Sandeep Sethi, learned Senior Advocate appearing with Mr. Satyakam, learned ASC for the Govt. of NCT of Delhi informed the court that a number of relaxations permitted by the Govt. of India have not been implemented in Delhi given the rising cases.

Stringent measures including restrictions on the number of persons who can participate during marriage ceremonies, disallowing the Chhatpuja festival/celebrations at public parks/spaces and bursting of crackers during Diwali have been implemented. The court was informed that a new testing kit, namely 'Feluda' which has come in the market recently, shall also be considered as another option for ramping up testing in view of the shorter time that it takes to obtain a report on collecting a sample.

As for the enforcement of the norms of social distancing, wearing of masks and appropriate behaviour during the COVID-19 times, it was stated that dedicated multi-organizational mobile teams have been constituted and fines have been imposed on those not adhering to the norms.

The court expressed its concerns over the inadequacy of the number of Enforcement vehicles and the Enforcement teams given the population of Delhi. It also expressed its displeasure and concerns over the insufficient fines imposed for violation of the norms of social distancing and of wearing masks and their failure to act as a deterrent.

The court observed that Delhi Government between 9th November, 2020 to 17th November, 2020, had undertaken 2,98,553 tests through RAT and 1,53,025 tests through RTPCR and other similar modes, which is just about 50% of the total testing undertaken in this period. It emphasized the need to increase the testing through RTPCR and other similar modes given that the number of asymptomatic persons in Delhi are huge and the rate of positivity had been slowly climbing up, having reached 14% and of which the Delhi Government had failed to take notice despite constant emphasis by the Court. It also pointed out the daily reported cases of the infection do not reflect the claims of decrease in cases being made by the by Ministers and high-ranking officers of the Delhi Government in the press.

It had been stated on behalf of the Delhi Government that steps are being taken to invite the public at large to make suggestions to contain the COVID-19 infection which the court observed was rather belated given the situations of lack of manpower. The Status Report did not throw any light on the steps taken by the Delhi Government to create facilities of Care homes to shift those who are infected and the same was directed to be included in the next Status Report.

Keeping this in mind the court ordered that,

"Considering the steep rise in the daily death rate in Delhi in the past couple of weeks, Delhi Government is directed to set out in the next Status Report, the steps taken by it to ensure that adequate arrangements have been made at all crematoriums and burial places for performing the last rites of those who have succumbed to the infection. Fresh Status Report shall be filed within one week."

The matter will now be heard next on 26th November, 2020.

Ld. Sr. Adv. Mr. Sandeep Sethi and Ld. ASC Mr. Satyakam had appeared for the Govt. of NCT of Delhi.

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