HC notice to Public Health director

The Telangana High Court on Thursday issued contempt-of-court notice to Public Health and Family Welfare director in-charge G. Srinivasa Rao, the top State government officer, overseeing matters relating to COVID-19, for not complying with its directions in a batch of PIL pleas on the pandemic.

A division bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy gave two weeks to Mr. Rao to explain why he should not be punished for deliberately disobeying the court orders. During previous hearings, the bench instructed the government to step up number of COVID-19 tests.

It specifically asked the Public Health director to conduct 50,000 tests a day for a week from November 19 and enhance the number of tests up to a lakh on one of those seven days. In the latest report submitted by him to the court, the official stated that the number of tests would be increased to 50,000 a day and one lakh once in a week “as and when demand arises.

The CJ observed that, despite the court direction, the officer could conduct only 45,000 to 47,000 tests a day during the week and never reached the target of one lakh tests on any day of the week.

More tests would help ascertain if there are more number of coronavirus positive persons.

The court wanted the government to enhance number of tests to identify people testing positive for COVID-19 in the backdrop of reports about possible second wave of the pandemic.

Expressing doubts over the State’s preparedness in the event of the second wave of the pandemic, the CJ said that “you do not start digging up well for water when your house is on fire”. After perusing Mr. Rao’s report, the CJ remarked that the language used by the former was contemptuous.

“He is inviting contempt notice from the court…. This court can assure Dr. Srinivasa Rao that he will be at the receiving end for his unwarranted drafting skills,” the bench said. It felt that Advocate General B.S. Prasad should have guided Mr. Rao in presenting a proper report.

The bench asked the government to explain the rationale behind permitting huge congregations of people at marriages and meetings of political parties. The CJ said there was likelihood of the pandemic second wave hitting the State and the State government was not geared up to tackle it.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 5:28:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/hc-notice-to-public-health-director/article33188684.ece

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