The Karnataka High Court on Friday issued notice to the State government on a Public interest litigation seeking directions to the state and media houses to provide Rs 50 lakh compensations each to the families of media persons, newspaper delivery boys, in case they die due to coronavirus infection.
A bench of Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice Suraj Govindaraj issued notice on the petition filed by Jacob George. The petition states that "During the present crisis Doctors, nurses, health care personnel, ASHA activists, Police, Para military personnel are functioning as Essential services for the control and prevention of Coronavirus. They are very much essential to provide health care support to the people who are getting infected by the coronavirus. They are also proudly called Corona Warriors. Along with them the media persons both Print and Electronic media are also working day and night in creating awareness to the general public about the harmful effects of the CoronaVirus.
Media are also part of the Essential services they are the primary source of information to the public and the entire population of the country depends on the news channels for the information about the coronavirus.
Reporters are interviewing doctors, police personnel, government officials, patients and the family members of the patients infected by the coronaVirus on a day to day basis. They are under great risk of contracting the virus and their families are also under the great risk of contacting the deadly virus. They have no social security benefit and in case of unfortunate death in the line of duty, they also do not have any means of compensation either from the management or the government.
Advocate H Sunil Kumar appearing for the petitioner argued that media persons visit hospitals, quarantine zones and containment centers without using Personal protective equipments. This is very risky and they can easily get infected by the coronavirus. In Mumbai 52 Media persons have tested positive for the corona virus and all of them have been quarantined. Hence they always face the risk of infection during the period of reporting. It is important to provide schemes for the welfare of the media persons who are also frontline warriors in the present crisis.
The petition states "The government has announced compensation to Police personnel and the health care workers in case of an unfortunate death due to coronavirus. But denying the same compensation to the media persons and their families amounts to violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.