The Bombay High Court on Friday refused relief in a public interest litigation seeking directions to the State to do away with the pre-condition of production of a doctor's prescription for Covid-19 testing and observed that prima facie there has to be a rational use of testing kits and the present situation does not warrant grant of any such relief.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice KK Tated were hearing a PIL filed by Narendra Murkumbi, founder of Shree Renuka Sugars the largest sugar refiner and ethanol producer in the country, who sought directions to allow testing of individuals irrespective whether a person is symptomatic and has come in contact with a Covid-19 patient.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appeared on behalf of the Union, Advocate General AA Kumbhakoni for the State, Senior Advocate Vikram Nankani appeared on behalf of the petitioner and Senior Advocate AY Sakhare for MCGM.
The PIL referred to the guidelines dated March 31 issued by ICMR wherein lies a condition that testing has to be done on a doctor's prescription and only for those who are asymptomatic and have come in contact with a Covid-19 positive person. Petitioner contended that timely testing of coronavirus should be made available for every person and the aforesaid condition was in violation of fundamental rights of citizens including the Right to Life.
AG Kumbhakoni submitted that the petition cannot be allowed as it is a luxury petition filed by a rich man for rich people. Resources are limited and taking into account the exposure of poor people to the deadly virus, ICMR's guidelines have been issued thus such excessive testing cannot be allowed, AG told the Court.
Nankani opposed the advocate general's submission that the PIL a luxury petition and argued that on the contrary it was a necessity as employees need to be tested even if they are asymptomatic for the safety of others and their families.
The bench observed-
"We are of the considered prima facie opinion that there has to be a rational use of testing kits and the present situation is not such warranting grant of interim relief, as prayed. Interim relief stands refused."
Court directed all respondents to file their respective reply affidavits within three weeks and the matter will be listed in due course.
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