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Social Distancing Seems To Be An 'Empty Shibboleth'; Treatment System At Government Hospitals Has 'Collapsed': Allahabad HC Raps UP Govt [Read Order]

Akshita Saxena
5 Aug 2020 1:55 PM GMT
Social Distancing Seems To Be An Empty Shibboleth; Treatment System At Government Hospitals Has Collapsed: Allahabad HC Raps UP Govt [Read Order]
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The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday rapped the UP Government for its failure to implement the social distancing norms in the state.

""Do gaj doori mask pehna zaroori" seems to be an empty shibboleth coined by the Government. Neither the Government is looking interested in implementing the rule that two individuals should remain two yards away and wear masks nor the people of our State are interested in following the above rule," a Division bench comprised of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar remarked.

The Court was hearing the suo moto case dealing with the conditions of Quarantine centers in the state, and other Covid related issues.

In its previous order, the High Court had observed that people have got a wrong impression that they can freely mix with each other and move around during the Unlock phase. During the course of hearing today, the Court was informed by certain Advocates that the citizenry continued to flout the social distancing norms.

[Unlock 2] 'People Have Got A Wrong Impression That They Can Now Freely Mix With Each Other': Allahabad HC Suggests Incarceration Of Persons Flouting Physical Distancing Norms [Read Order]

Taking strict view of the same, the Court has directed the Police along with the District Administration to see that people who crowd at shops should queue up with a distance of two yards in between two individuals.

"It matters little that the queue goes to be a kilometer long. This physical distancing will be for the good of the shopkeepers and also for the good of the people who crowd at these shops," the order states.

The bench has also issued detailed instructions to enforce the Unlock guidelines in letter and spirit and to take apposite action against the violators, including the Police authorities, if they fail to discharge their duties. The directions are reiterated at the end of this report.

Inter alia, the Court observed that the Nagar Nigam Administration had failed to remove unauthorized shops/ encroachments where people often gather, despite explicit directions.

"We, prima facie, find that the Nagar Nigam Administration is not only proceeding at a snail's pace but it has mostly remained a passive spectator of the encroachment activities in various parts of the city, as one date.

Social distancing norms cannot be followed in letter and spirit if these unauthorized encroachers are permitted to carry out commercial activities in every nook and corner of the city. It is not only the duty of the Nagar Nigam to ensure that public places in the city are absolutely encroachment free but they have also to ensure that these places are not re-encroached," the Court observed.

It has now summoned the Municipal Commissioner to remain present on the next date of hearing.

Lastly, the bench took note that the Government had failed to provide timely reports of Covid tests, and there were indications that treatment system at Government hospitals had "collapsed," as people were getting themselves treated in private hospitals rather than Government hospitals,

"The Government is coming up with various data to show that things are under its control but newspaper reports are not very encouraging. There are complaints that people, though have been tested for COVID-19 but have not yet received their reports even after a lapse of two or more weeks.

Let a proper affidavit be filed by the Chief Medical Officer before this Court in respect of the pending COVID-19 reports already tested and reports received and delivered date-wise from 20th July, 2020 till 5th August, 2020," the bench ordered.

The specific directions, as issued by the Division bench, are reiterated as under:

  1. The State Authorities to see vigorously that no two individuals in public remain within a distance of two yards from each other.
  2. If any public place is found where people fail to maintain distance of two yards from each other then the owner of the premises, where the violation of this Rule is found, should be brought to book and the premises should be closed down.
  3. If it is brought to the notice of the administration in the higher echelon that policemen etc. are not enforcing rules of distancing then action should be taken against those policemen.
  4. If there is crowding seen at O.P.D's of hospitals, Nursing Homes and Clinics which appear to be in violation of various principles laid down by the State Government then action must be taken against those hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.
  5. Various photographs have also been brought on record which show that persons who come to file their cases in Courts, are not maintaining physical distancing. They are such individuals who report a violation of law to the Courts, and therefore it is expected that they would at least maintain physical distancing. They should voluntarily exercise restraint and should not come close to each other. If within an hour of the starting of the functioning judicial institutions, it is found that crowding is happening and physical distancing is not being maintained by individuals on whose shoulders the judicial institutions function then the Bar Association, the Registry of the Court and the District Administration should step in and see that proper physical distancing is maintained.
  6. If the few photographs which have been filed today are to be believed then we expect that action has to be taken at an extremely fast speed. Under such circumstances, action shall be taken by tomorrow against such shopkeepers who encourage crowding outside their shops. Actions against the erring police personnel shall also be taken by tomorrow. We expect to find on record such official warning etc. which would have been given in between today and tomorrow.
  7. The above exercise shall not only be undergone in Prayagraj but also shall be undertaken in all the districts of the State of U.P. Any information of violation of physical distancing, if is brought to our notice, might result in suo motu action being taken by us.
  8. The administration to remove all encroachments within the time limit as was provided to the Nagar Nigam by the Court at an earlier date.
  9. As we find that the work of removal of the encroachments has been done in a most slipshod manner, let the Municipal Commissioner be present in the Court on the next date.
  10. The Administration to also see that no pillion riders except couple on two wheelers are seated unless there is an extreme urgency.

The matter is now listed for hearing on August 7, 2020.

Case Details:

Case Title: In-Re Inhuman Condition At Quarantine Centres And For Providing Better Treatment To Corona Positive Respondent

Case No.: PIL No. 574/2020

Quorum: Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Ajit Kumar

Appearance: Advocates Gaurav Kumar Gaur, Rishu Mishra and SPS Chauhan (for Petitioner); CSC Purnendu Kumar Singh (for State)

Click Here To Download Order

Read Order


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