The Bombay High Court heard a public interest litigation on Sunday after a request for a hearing was made citing 'urgency' alleging non-compliance of guidelines issued by the Union of India/ICMR regarding Covid-19.
The petitioner also alleged that authorities were picking up people randomly from particular areas in Nagpur and putting them in quarantine even though they did not belong
Justice Anil S Kilor at the Nagpur bench granted the State of Maharashtra, Union of India and Nagpur Municipal Corporation, time till Tuesday to file their respective replies.
Petitioner's lawyer Dr.Tushar Mandlekar submitted that the authorities are picking the persons randomly from the areas namely 'Satranjipura' and 'Mominpura' of Nagpur City and making them quarantine though they are not falling in the categories of 'High Risk Contacts' and 'Low Risk Contacts'. He argued that if any person who is not falling in any of the said category, making them quarantine amounts to infringement of their rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of Constitution of India.
Referring to various guidelines issued from time to time, Mandlekar stated that the respondent authorities are taking the persons from the aforesaid two areas and making them quarantine in MLA Hostel and Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT) which are located in crowded areas. According to him, as per the guidelines the quarantine facility in a community based facility shall preferably be placed in the outskirts of the urban area, away from crowded and populated areas to a secured area.
Justice Kilor enquired regarding the source of information of the petitioner, and Mandlekar said that the petition is based on news items and his client could not verify the correctness of the said news item because he was not allowed to enter the said areas.
Advocate Sudhir Puranik appeared on behalf of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) submitted that he could only take oral instructions as a copy of the petition was served upon him the same day. As per his instructions, the patients who are in the category of 'High Risk Contacts' are being quarantined. Furthermore, the Corporation is strictly following the guidelines issued in respect of COVID-19, Puranik said.
Government pleader SY Deopujari appeared on behalf of the State and Additional Solicitor General of India UM Aurangabadkar for the Union of India.
Additionally, Dr. Pravin Gantawar from the Health Department of NMC was also present and he pointed out that every care has been taken before putting people in quarantine, as per the guidelines issued in this regard.
"All these persons who have been quarantined are from the category of 'High Risk Contacts' and therefore with a view to break the chain of COVID-19 and in the interest of citizen of Nagpur City, such necessary steps have been taken", Dr.Gantawar said.
Mandlekar submitted that he is not disputing that the authorities are working in the interest of people of the Nagpur City and whatever steps they are taking are in the interest of Nagpur City and with an intention to break the chain of COVID-19.
However, he reiterated his argument that he is concerned with the places where these persons are being quarantined which are crowded and because of which possibility of causing further infection to other persons residing nearby these two places, cannot be ruled out.
Counsels for the respondent authorities sought two days time from the Court to file their respective submissions so as to clarify the position as regard to the allegations made in this petition.
Thus, the Court granted the authorities time till May 5 to file their reply
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