Utt HC | Great influx of tourists, social distancing not being maintained, SOP not complied with; Court directs State to review decision of relaxing lockdown, control the inflow of tourists

 Uttaranchal High Court: The Division Bench of Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, CJ and Alok Kumar Verma, J., heard and issued directions in relation to the affidavit submitted in compliance with the order dated 28-06-2021.

Mr. Shiv Bhatt, the Counsel for the petitioner brought to the notice of this Court that certain guidelines have been issued by the Department of Health and Family Welfare. These guidelines were required to be strictly implemented by the State Governments and the Union Territories. The States were directed to have a continuous focus on five-fold strategies for effective management of Covid-19 i.e. tests-track treatment-vaccination, and adherence to Covid appropriate behavior. However, certain relaxations have been given, such as “the lockdown is not to be observed during the weekends”. The counsel stated that the moment the lockdown is relaxed, a large number of people are flooding in the hill stations of the State. Many of them are arriving within the State without the required registration, and without the required RT-PCR negative test reports. Therefore, these tourists, who are pouring in, are beginning to pose a threat both to the creation of the new mutant, and to the spread of Delta Plus mutant.

Mr Amit Negi, Secretary, Health and the Family Welfare, submitted that in total 521 samples have been sent to the NCDC from the State. Out of these, 144 samples have been found to be Covid19 positive, and belong to the Delta variant. A single sample, arising from the Udham Singh Nagar district, has been discovered to be as a Delta Plus variant sample. Therefore, Mr Shiv Bhatt submitted that a direction should be issued to the Government to review its decision with regard to relaxing the lockdown during the weekends; the State Government should also be directed to control the inflow of tourists into the State. He further conveyed his concerns regarding the poor healthcare system and vaccination.

The Court issued the following directions in light of the above-mentioned facts:

1. To review its decision to relax the lockdown during the weekends, and to permit a large number of tourists to invade the State during the said period. For, the tourists may bring in and introduce the dreaded Delta plus variant in the State.

2. The State is further directed to take concrete steps to control the inflow of tourists in the State. The steps, so taken by the State, should be informed to the public at large so that the potential tourists are informed about the steps being taken by the State.

3. This Court directs Mr. Amit Negi, the learned Secretary, Medical Health and Family Welfare, to inform this Court about the number of samples sent to the NCDC; about the reports received from the NCDC with regard to these samples; with regard to the steps taken, either by the District Magistrate, or by the Health Officers of the concerned district where anyone is found to be suffering from the Delta variant, or from the Delta plus variant.

4. Amit Negi is further directed to inform this Court with regard to the number of MRI machines available in the Government Hospitals of the State.

 a. Whether these MRI machines are available in all the Government Hospitals or not?

b. Which Government Hospitals of the State, the MRI machines are not available in the State?

c. Whether all the CHCs’ have doctors appointed in them or not?

d. A complete list of CHCs without doctors should be provided in the report.

5. Amit Negi is further directed to inform this Court with regard to the availability of the pediatric beds, pediatric ventilators, and pediatric wards in the Government Hospitals, and in the private hospitals operating in the State.

6. He is further directed to inform this Court with regard to the position of vaccination in the State. He shall inform this Court with regard to the number of innoculation carried out in each district of the State. How many persons have received the first doze? How many persons have received the second doze? What is the daily rate of vaccination in the State?

7. He is further directed to consider, and to implement the scheme for vaccinating the physically challenged and elderly people, as expeditiously as possible. In case, “near to home clinics” can be established, the possibility for the same should be explored by the State Government.

8.Amit Negi is further directed to consider the possibility of increasing the stipend being paid to the intern doctors. For, on the one hand, according to Mr. Amit Negi, it is difficult to attract the doctors to the State, yet, on the other hand, the stipend being paid to the intern doctors is too low as compared to the other States. Therefore, the State Government should consider the possibility of increasing the stipend of intern doctors within the State.

9. Lastly, Mr. S.S. Sandhu, the learned Chief Secretary is directed to inform this Court with regard to the decision, if any, taken by the State Government concerning tightening of the lockdown during the weekends in the State.

[SACHDANAND DABRAL v. UNION OF INDIA, 2021 SCC OnLine Utt 687, decided on 28-06-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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