Karnataka High Court takes suo motu cognisance of dengue exigency based on a letter to the editor published in newspaper

The court directed the government to submit by July 23 details about preventive and remedial measures initiated to check the spread of fever

Updated - July 11, 2024 12:15 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 01:46 pm IST - Bengaluru

High Court of Karnataka has treated the letter as a public interest litigation (PIL) petition.

High Court of Karnataka has treated the letter as a public interest litigation (PIL) petition. | Photo Credit: File photo

The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday, July 10, took suo motu cognisance of the rise and the spread of dengue across the State based on a letter to the editor, written by a reader, published in an English daily, and reports related to the spread of the disease published in various newspapers.

The court directed the State government to submit by July 23 the preventive and remedial measures initiated to check the spread of dengue in both urban and rural areas, steps taken to provide medical facilities, details of availability of infrastructure to meet medical exigency, steps and programmes undertaken for creating public awareness, and steps taken to control mosquito breeding.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Anjaria and Justice K.V. Aravind passed the order by treating the letter, written by Vijaya Kumar H.K. of Raichur, published in Deccan Herald on July 9, as a public interest litigation (PIL) petition.

Pulse of society

The Bench said the letter had reflected the pulse of society regarding the spread of dengue, and other related issues as the letters to the editor are the pulse of society and considered as a barometer, reflected therein are the true affairs in society, perceived by intimate eyes of a common man.”

The letter stated, “The Karnataka government must declare a medical emergency in response to a dengue outbreak that has already claimed many lives. Immediate action is imperative, including the establishment of a task force to collaborate with health workers to eliminate mosquitoes, led by experts, to address escalating cases across districts...” It further said that “sluggish response from the Health Department” had worsened the crisis, and hospitals were feeling overwhelmed by severe cases. “A transparent data collection system is essential, along with urging residents to collaborate with health workers to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and prevent water stagnation...”

News reports

The report with the headline ‘Despite BBMP claims, water stagnation seen in many spots’ published in The Hindu, and the reports under the headline ‘Tech hub Mahadevapura drives dengue surge, logs 27% of the cases’, the ‘BBMP admits to gaps in monitoring cases’, and ‘Since January 2024, there has been 7,326 cases and seven deaths’, published in the Times of India, fortify the view expressed by the citizen in the above letter to the editor, the Bench said.

While pointing out that the right to health is a necessary concomitant right flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution, the Bench observed that “there is a right to be treated with expert medicinal facilities and effective infrastructure, especially during the times while negotiating the threats from the disease”.

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