‘Has the govt. window-dressed COVID-19 death figures?’

SEC asked to furnish action plan to manage crowds during ULB polls

April 27, 2021 10:51 pm | Updated 10:51 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Telangana High Court on Tuesday wondered if the State government was resorting to “window dressing” over number of deaths due to COVID-19.

Referring to the figures of death in the report submitted by the government before it, a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy said the numbers were far below the number of bodies piling up at crematoriums and burial grounds in the State. “If the State furnished fudged figures of deaths due to coronavirus, then people would not fear deaths due to the virus. it will be more damaging and harm public,” the Chief Justice observed.

Clear information on the matter would drive people to get vaccinated and keep themselves safe. The bench directed Advocate General B.S. Prasad to ensure a proper record of the number of bodies cremated at various crematoriums and burial grounds was maintained. These figures should match with the deaths declared by the government, the bench said.

Hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigation petitions on COVID-19-related matters, the bench issued notices to State Election Commission to furnish an action plan for managing crowds during the polls to urban local bodies to be held on Friday in five districts of the State. Gathering of people during the polls could turn out to be super spreaders of coronavirus, the High Court said.

Directing the government to crack down on hoarders of oxygen cylinders, the bench remarked that “oxygen requirement was for the desperate purposes and not for luxury”. The bench stressed the need to supply oxygen at affordable rates to the needy patients. It directed the government to make available sufficient number of body bags at government and private hospitals for wrapping up bodies of persons who died of coronavirus. The dead patients deserve dignity in death, the court said citing media reports that a large number of unwrapped bodies were lying unattended at crematoriums and burial grounds.

Perusing the status report of the Director-General of Police (DGP), the bench said it was “surprised that only four cases were booked for not maintaining social distance”. “It is a joke. If police can check a car parking place randomly, they can find a minimum of 15 cases,” the Chief Justice said. The court noted that the figures furnished by the Director-General of Police were laughable.

Referring to two cases registered for large gatherings, the court remarked that the police were not doing their duty. The court directed the DGP to sensitise local police on norms of wearing face masks. Police personnel should counsel people when the latter were found not wearing masks properly. “Any violation should be dealt with strictly”, the bench said

The bench expressed dissatisfaction over the DGP report not mentioning about vaccination of inmates of prisons, orphanages. “Taking these people from their places to centres of vaccination would make them vulnerable to COVID-19”, the court said.

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