Health emergency: Gujarat HC initiates suo motu PIL on coronavirus
On Sunday, the Gujarat High Court initiated a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) on the coronavirus situation in the state. Citing media reports, Chief Justice Vikram Nath observed that the "state is heading toward a health emergency of sorts" and that there are an "uncontrolled upsurge and serious management issues in COVID-19 control." The PIL will be heard today.
State government, health department, and Centre have been made parties
On the HC's orders, the registry added a PIL titled "In Re: Uncontrolled upsurge and serious management issues in COVID control." The court directed the registry to make the Gujarat government, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the health department, as well as the Central government parties to the case. Advocate General Kamal Trivedi and government's lawyer Manisha Shah will join the hearing.
Earlier this month, HC suggested that lockdown could help Gujarat
Before initiating the PIL on its own, a division bench of HC, led by Chief Justice Nath, had summoned Trivedi and Shah on April 6. The bench took note of the steep rise in coronavirus cases and had suggested imposing a lockdown for a few days to stem the spread of the contagion. Last year, another PIL was registered in HC on the coronavirus situation.
Chief Justice said media reports are full of 'harrowing tales'
The HC's latest action came on a day when Gujarat added 5,469 new coronavirus cases, taking its total tally to 3,47,495. Chief Justice Nath, in his Sunday order, noted that five days have passed since the government was asked to take appropriate measures to control the spike in coronavirus cases. Still, the newspapers and news channels are flooded with "harrowing tales."
He highlighted that beds aren't available
"The newspapers, news channels are flooded with the harrowing tales, unfortunate and unimaginable difficulties, unmanageable conditions of the infrastructure, the shortfall and the deficit of not only testing, availability of beds, ICU, but also the supply of oxygen and basic medicines like Remdesivir," he said.
He explained why HC can't turn a blind eye anymore
Further, the Chief Justice asserted that had there been "stray news items here and there," he would have ignored them. But the sheer volume of tragic tales has forced the court to intervene. "A list of the articles along with xerox (photocopies) copies published in the past three days is a part of this order as Annexure-A," he said in the order.