A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court challenging the arbitrary and unreasonable calculation of the home quarantine period by the Delhi Government. Filed by a photojournalist, the petition also challenges the absence of important details in the home quarantine notice, which as per the Petitioner, leads to stigmatisation by the society.
The Petitioner is one of the 72 people identified in the contact tracing conducted for a food delivery person who tested positive for COVID19 on 14.4.2020. He also admits that he had only one point of contact with the infected individual, i.e. at midnight on 24.03.2020/25.03.2020.
As of today, the Petitioner submits, it has been over 30 days since the first and last point of contact, yet, the Petitioner remains in home quarantine, despite the stipulated time period of 14 days from contact having lapsed.
The Petitioner is further aggrieved by the fact that the authorities had arbitrarily put up two home quarantine notices at Petitioner's house, calculating the 14 days quarantine period from 15th and 17th April respectively, which the Petitioner argues is against both the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as well as the World Health Organisation.
Claiming that calculation of home quarantine period in this case reflects non-application of mind, and is arbitrary and unreasonable, the petition states that:
'At the first instance, the Quarantine Notice pasted at his residence stated that the Petitioner was under Home Quarantine from "24.3.2020 to 20.4.2020". The said notice was pasted on 15.4.2020, thereby prompting the neighbours and other residents of the building society to question the Petitioner as to why he was not observing quarantine from 24.03.2020. It is a matter of record that the infected individual was only diagnosed on 14.4.2020, approximately 20 days after contact with the Petitioner.'
It is the case of the Petitioner that manner in which the quarantine notice displays information is incomplete, to the extent that none of these details are provided. This has caused reputational damage to the Petitioner.
Petitioner contends that the cause of such reputational damage is the wrong calculation and incomplete nature of the home quarantine notice. While the notice was put up 14th April, it displayed that the Petitioner was asked to remain in home quarantine some since March 24.
'There appears to be no basis for the calculation of a home quarantine basis for a period of over 30 days from the date of contact with the infected person, either clinically, or in law. The imposition of a 35 day quarantine period on a person who had a single defined point of contact with the infected individual, and who lives along, appears to be arbitrary and reflects non-application of mind', the petition states.
The Petitioner is further aggrieved by an order issued by the Respondent dated 20.04.2020 warning the Petitioner of coercive and punitive action under the National Disaster Management Act of 2005, Epidemic Disasters Act of 1897 and the Indian Penal Code for alleged violations of home quarantine norms.
It is argued that the said notice is against the principles of natural justice, such as audi alteram partem, as well the Article 14 if the Constitution, as it does not disclose what the alleged violation is.
The Petitioner submits that he has not violated his home quarantine in any manner whatsoever and the notice has been issued without disclosing the nature of the alleged violation.
While visiting clarifying that he's willing to cooperate with the authorities to curtail the further spread of the disease, the home quarantine notice, in a way in which it is drafted and imposed, is a violation of his personal liberty, as it creates no nexus between the cause and the restriction, and it goes against the government's own guidelines.
The petition has been moved through Advocates Shyel Trehan and Diya Kapur
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