Take a call on night curfew in 48 hours or we will pass orders, says HC

Telangana High Court building in Hyderabad   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Telangana High Court on Monday asked the State government to take a call on imposing night curfew or weekend lockdowns to check spread of COVID-19.

Observing that the courts were “bound by the interest of public”, the HC told the government that it would be compelled to pass directions if the government did not take a call on the matter in next 48 hours. “You do whatever you can do... We will do what you cannot do...” Chief Justice Hima Kohli told Advocate General B.S. Prasad appearing for State.

Taking strong exception to the government’s inadequate response to its directions on managing and curtailing COVID-19, the HC instructed the Health Secretary and Director General of Police to appear during next date of hearing. A bench of CJ and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy, hearing a batch of PIL petitions on COVID-19 related issues, noting that the “government’s monitoring was not enough”. “You (government) cannot afford to say monitoring when numbers of people testing positive for the virus were shooting up the ceiling,” the CJ remarked.

The bench headed by the CJ directed the government to file a fresh affidavit. Among other details, the affidavit should explain what arrangements the government had made for people not having money for ambulances and to get blood and other tests done. The court wanted the government to explain if any nodal officer was appointed to supervise availability of Remdesivir vials. “What facilities were put in place to store Remdesivir stocks if they were seized during raids on hoarders,” the CJ wanted to know.

Helping families

During the second wave of coronavirus infection, entire families were testing positive. The court sought to know if the government mooted any idea of supplying food to all such affected families since they cannot prepare food for themselves. The CJ repeatedly asked the AG why the government had not taken any specific decision to control the number of persons participating in marriages, funerals and election rallies.

The court asked the government what information dissemination system about the availability of hospitals extending treatment for coronavirus was available to the public. Citing figures from the report filed by the government, the CJ observed that over 1,000 persons from the five districts of Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Sangareddy and Medchal-Malkajgiri districts tested positive in a specific period. What steps was the government taking in such areas witnessing high incidence of COVID-19, the bench questioned the AG.

When the batch of PIL pleas came up for hearing in the morning, the CJ took serious objection to the failure of the government to comply with its earlier orders on the matter. Rejecting the repeated assurances of the AG that State government was doing everything and geared up to tackle COVID-19, the CJ said the court wanted to hear directly from the officials concerned what actions they were taking at the field level.

Curbs on participants

The matter was passed over and taken up for hearing during post-lunch session. When the CJ expressed concern over the growing number of people testing positive for the virus, the State Health Secretary appearing in the virtual court proceedings said recently held festivals could be one of the reasons for the spurt. “We are not talking about religious congregations but want to know why you are not restricting number of people attending marriages, funerals,” the CJ said.

When the Health Secretary sought time to give a detailed action plan, the CJ said it was already 10 days since the HC had instructed them to chalk out strategy to check the virus. “How much time is time for you... You already wasted 240 hours,” the CJ said. Addressing the AG, the CJ said the Secretary’s response to the questions posed by the bench was not good.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 11:03:26 AM |

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