The Chhattisgarh High Court has directed the state government to undertake "intensive search operations" to locate the persons who have returned from the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi's Nizamuddin, as they may be potential carriers of the COVID-19 infection.
While hearing a batch of petitions relating to various issues viz. the COVID-19 pandemic, the court noted that a total of 159 Tablighi Jamaat members had returned to Chhattisgarh of whom, 52 persons had not been identified. It was further noted that of the 107 identified members, medical reports of only 87 had been received.
Expressing concern over such state of affairs, the high court bench of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Goutam Bhaduri ordered the State Government to "initiate intensive search operation to locate the remaining 52 persons who have attended the congregation and to forthwith obtain reports of 23 persons whose samples have been taken but the reports are awaited."
Status reports for the same have to be submitted by April 13.
Further, the court has asked the Advocate General to file status reports, addressing each of the following issues raised during the hearing in relation to the pandemic:
"Having noted the submissions in all the writ petitions, we allow two weeks time to the learned Advocate General for filing status reports on the issues raised in each of the petitions. The learned Assistant Solicitor General shall also file his response together with the orders passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court on related issues so that conflicting orders are not passed by this Court," the bench ordered.
Inter alia, the court has deferred consideration of the Government's "proposed action" of opening liquor shops during the lock-down period. It noted that the state government of Chhattisgarh was planning to take decision in the matter depending upon the decision whether to continue the lock-down or not. Thus it observed,
"Insofar as the issue concerning opening of liquor shops, we shall hear the matter on 13.04.2020 as by that time there will be clarity as to whether lock-down will be extended or not."
The cases are now posted for April 13.
Appearance: Amicus Curiae Prafull N Bharat; Advocates Rajni Soren, Meena Shastri, Faiz Kazi, Amiya Kant Tiwari and Rohit Sharma (for the respective Petitioners); Advocate General Satish Chandra Verma with Deputy Advocate Generals HS Ahluwalia and Chandresh Shrivastava (for the State); Assistant Solicitor General B. Gopa Kumar and Standing Counsel RK Kesharwani (for Union of India); Advocate Ashish Shrivastava (for Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority); Advocate Abhishek Sinha, (for Town Inspector, Bilaspur); Advocates Prateek Sharma and Gautam Khetrapal (for the respective Intervenors)
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