Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan*, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has asked the Central Government to consider and issue necessary directions in exercise of powers vested in it under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, regarding ban/Regulation on the usage of disinfection tunnels involving spraying or fumigation of chemical/organic disinfectants for the human beings. The Central Government has to issue such directions within a month.
The direction came in the case where the petitioner had sought ban on spraying of all kinds of disinfectants on human beings which is being done supposedly for protecting the human beings from the COVID-19. The petitioner highlighted that the Ultraviolet (UV Lamps) should not be used to disinfect the hands and other areas of the skin and that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has also not approved the use of any self-claimed organic or ayurvedic disinfectant for spraying or fumigation purposes nor approved any chemical disinfectants on human body but lot of organizations/public authorities are using chemical disinfectants for spraying and fumigation.
It was further submitted that
“there is no study anywhere in the world by any credible health agency which states that human disinfection tunnels are effective against Covid-19 virus.”
On the contrary, there are sufficient health advisories by the WHO, Union of India and other international agencies that tunnels are counter-productive and harmful for human health.
In this backdrop, the Court noticed that when the Government itself has issued advisory that use of disinfectant on human body is not recommended and it has been brought into its notice that despite the said advisory, large number of organizations, public authorities are using disinfectants on human body, it was necessary for it to issue necessary directions either to prevent such use or regulate such use as per requirement to protect the health of the people.
Though the Union and the States are taking all measures to contain the pandemic and all mitigating steps but,
“Some more actions were required to remove the cloud of uncertainty and to regulate the use even if it was to either prevent such use or regulate the use so that health of citizens is amply protected.”
On the submission by the Government that it is for the States/UTs to implement guidelines by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and role of the Central Government is limited to provide necessary guidelines and financial support, the Court said, that the provisions of the Act, 2005, confer certain more responsibilities and duties on the Central Government apart from issuance of guidelines and providing financial support. The COVID-19 Pandemic being a disaster within the meaning of Act, 2005, has to be dealt with sternly and effectively.
“In event, use of disinfectant on human body is to cause adverse effect on the health of the people, there has to be immediate remedial action and respondent No.1 cannot stop only by saying that such use is not recommended.”
[Gursimran Singh Narula v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 906, decided on 05.11.2020]
*Justice Ashok Bhushan has penned this judgment