Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Ravindra Maithani, JJ., directed for the use of rapid antibody tests for surveillance purpose at border points.

Court stated that presently the efforts that are being made by the State Authorities at the borders of Uttarakhand are not sufficient to check the return of persons who are coming more rapidly in ever increasing numbers.

“…many of them may be infected with the virus.”

The above was stated by the Court only after noting the fact that COVID-19 positive cases have increased in number in places like “Betal Ghat” in Nainital, Uttarakashi, Tehri, Almora and many other interior hill districts.

Court on observing that on borders only thermal screening and general clinical examination is being done, said that it is not a sufficient measure and more can be done in this regard.

Thus Court directed the following after discussion with Advocate General S.N. Babulkar assisted by Chief Standing Counsel, Paresh Tripathi, Assistant Solicitor General of India, Rakesh Thapliyal:

  • At each border point, State Government shall establish quarantine centres. All such returnees who are coming from red zones shall be kept for a period of one week. Out of these quarantined persons, those who have necessary symptoms, as per the guidelines of ICMR, shall be tested for RT-PCR.
  • Although rapid antibody test has not been approved by ICMR for diagnostic purposes, but since the result of this test is available in much less time, such tests can be used for surveillance purposes alone.
  • Secretary,Health, Government of India has fairly admitted that this test can be done on an experiment basis at border points and subject to its success or failure will be implemented further or discontinued.
  • ICMR has approved a testing kit, called “Elisa” Kit, under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, which can be made available to the State Government. Such tests have already been performed in District Pauri Garhwal of Uttarakhand. Let it be done for surveillance purposes in other districts as well.

Thus, in view of the above, Court asks Advocate general to file a progress report in regard to the above stated points.

Matter to be listed on 02-06-2020. [Sachdanand Dabra v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 229 , decided on 20-05-2020]

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