Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Telangana High Court: While deciding several writ petitions highlighting the lapses committed by the State of Telangana in dealing with grim situation caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the Division Bench of Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, CJ, and B. Vijaysen Reddy, J., issued a common order directing the Government of Telangana in general and Public Health Department in particular, to ensure that this Court’s Order dated 26-05-2020, is adhered to strictly. The Court further warned the State Government and the concerned departments to implement the directions issued, otherwise the Court will be eventually compelled to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents for wilful and intentional disobedience of the Court’s orders.

As per the facts of the instant case, several petitions came up before the Court praying for the issuance of the writ of Mandamus. The petitions drew attention of the Court towards the inaction displayed the respondents in- properly quarantining persons returning from abroad to Telangana; ensuring the availability of PPE kits, N-95 masks for doctors and para- medical staff; ensuring the availability if sanitizers and masks for the public; ensuring the availability of essential food items and grains; handling of the migrants and destitutes; and not revealing the actual statistics and numbers of the Covid-19 casualties in the State. The petitioners claimed that the State through its inaction, have made mockery of the Constitutional principles.

Perusing the issues raised in the petitions and reports presented by the Director of the Public Health and Family Welfare Department, the Court observed that State Government has been abstaining from revealing the factual position of the Covid-19 crisis to the public via its media bulletin. The Court further reiterated its Order dated 26-05-2020, wherein the Public Health Department was directed to ensure that dead bodies being released by the hospitals are duly tested for the presence of corona virus. After analysing the issues highlighted in the instant petitions and various news reports, the Court further directed the concerned authorities to –

  • To provide a report to the Court containing the accurate details of the stocks of PPE Kits, N-95 Masks, Surgeon/ Masks, Sanitizers, Examination Gloves, and Surgical Gloves available for the benefit of the medical staff.
  • Directions were issued to the Health Department to reveal the complete facts, and the critical figures with regard to the number of COVID- 19 positive cases; numbers of testing carried out within the State from 26-05-2020 to 07-06-2020. The Media Bulletin issued by the State and the regional newspapers should contain all the aforementioned details.
  • Concerned authorities were directed to submit the information with regard to the establishment of the mobile labs, and private testing labs, which are permitted to operate throughout the State. The authorities must ensure that the contact details and addresses of such testing labs are publicised for the benefit of the people.

[P.L Vishweshwar Rao v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine TS 560 , decided on 08-06-2020]