The State of Maharashtra told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court that it is the need of the hour to fight the disease and not the persons involved in fighting the disease while replying to a public interest litigation alleging that due to the unhindered movement of doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, policemen and others working in essential services, the number of positive cases of Coronavirus in different parts of suburbs around Mumbai have risen.
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde heard via video conferencing a PIL filed by Charan Bhatt, a resident of Vasai who sought directions for arrangement of accommodation for such persons In Mumbai itself in order to "prevent the spread of Covid-19."
The said PIL relies on news from newspapers as well as websites to point out that from the 136 infected patients in Vasai Virar as on May 1, 57 have recovered, 10 have died and 69 are undergoing treatment. Now, the petitioner alleges that 47 of the 60 positive cases are doctors, para-medical staff, media reporters and others working in the essential service industry. A similar scenario exists in Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli and Navi Mumbai, the PIL contends.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar appeared on behalf of the petitioner.
In an affidavit filed through Deputy Secretary (Relief), Disaster Management, Relief & Rehabilitation, Revenue & Forest Department, State informed the Court at the outset that it is impossible to arrange for the accommodation of all employees working in emergency services such as medical professionals, police, fire services, disaster management etc considering the sheer number of such employees living in the suburban areas including Vasai-Virar.
"Making such an arrangement for the employees will put more stress on an already stressed machinery which is engaged in the fight against Covid-19", the affidavit states.
Moreover, the State told the Court that imposing restrictions on movement of medical professionals and para-medical staff can lead to severe impediments in rendering Covid and Non-Covid medical services -
"Ensuring unhindered movement of all such medical professionals is essential for meeting the public health requirements and saving precious human lives".
Similarly, the affidavit states that smooth movement of police personnel is essential for maintenance of law and order and unhindered movement of employees in essential services industry is also necessary.
Finally, it is stated in the affidavit that all such professionals who enjoy unhindered movement also take the necessary precautions like masks, hand sanitizers, gloves etc to prevent themselves from getting infected with Covid-19-
"It is humbly submitted that the need of the hour is to fight the disease not the personnel involved in fighting the disease."
Thus, the State sought disposal of the PIL in the interest of justice.