Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court of India: While closing the suo motu case regarding “Kanwar Yatra during pandemic”; the Division Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and B.R. Gavai, JJ., directed the authorities to be cautious towards public health and safety. The Bench stated,

“We may only remind the authorities at all levels to have regard to Article 144 of the Constitution, and ensure that untoward incidents which directly affect the lives of the public will be looked upon sternly and prompt action taken immediately.”

Earlier, on 16-07-2021, the Court had adopted a strict approach to address the casualness of the authorities with regard to the commencement of Kanwar Yatra. Observing the affidavit filed by the U.P. Government which explained as to how “symbolic” physical Kanwar yatra will take place, the Bench had asked the government that given the Covid pandemic and the fear that looms over all the citizens of India of a third wave of the pandemic whether the authorities would be in a position to reconsider holding or the allowing, for compelling religious reasons, of this yatra in physical form at all.

Responding to the Court’s anguish, the U.P. government had submitted before the Court that all the Kanwar Sanghs of the respective districts had given in writing their consent that in view of health and safety of the Public, Kanwar Yatra will be postponed by them and they will voluntarily not take out any Kanwar Yatra in the current year.

Considering that the pattern of last year is to be followed by the State of Uttar Pradesh, in which it is clear that the “Kanwar Sanghs” of the various districts have given in writing their consent to postpone Kanwar Yatra in view of the health and safety of the public, the Bench closed the matter while reiterating its previous order to remind the authorities that

“We are of the view that this is a matter which concerns everyone of us as citizens of India, and goes to the very heart of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which has a pride of place in the fundamental rights Chapter of our Constitution. The health of the citizenry of India and their right to “life” are paramount. All other sentiments, al beit religious, are subservient to this most basic fundamental right.”

Additionally, considering the request of intervener, Mr K. Radhakrishnan, the Bench warned the Union and the State governments to remain vigilant and not be complacent to contain the infectious or contagious diseases which have inter-state ramifications.[Alarming Newspaper Report Regarding Kanwar Yatra in State Of U.P., In Re., Sou Motu Writ (C) No. 5 of 2021, decided on 16-07-2021 and 19-07-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

For Respondent(s):

Mr. C.S Vaidyanathan, Sr. Adv

Mr. Garima Prasad, AAG

Mr. Saran Dev Singh Thakur, AAG

Mr. Mahesh Takur, Adv.

Mr. Pradeep Misra, AOR

Mr. Suraj Singh, Adv.

Dr. Abhishek Atrey, AOR

Ms. Ambika Atrey, Adv.

Mr. Tushar Mehta, SG

Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, ASG

Mr. S.P.V. Raju, ASG

Mr. Rajat Nair, Adv.

Mr. Zoheb Hussain, Adv.

Ms. Sairica Raju, Adv.

Mr. Kanu Agrawal, Adv.

Mr. Digvijay Dam, Adv.

Mr. B. V. Balaram Das, AOR

Mr. M. K. Maroria, Adv.

Mr. K. Radhakrishnan, Sr. Adv.

Mr. Vikas Singh, Sr. Adv.

Ms. Preeti Singh, AOR

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, J., expressed that vaccinating oneself may not only be to protect oneself but also in the larger interest of public health.

As per the State Government’s report, adequate measures were taken to vaccinate persons with disabilities, particularly the ones who were homebound.

Another significant point that was noted from the state report was that there was reluctance in some quarters to take the vaccine.

Bench asked the State to try and persuade persons with awareness campaigns and scientific data to indicate the efficacy of the vaccines and the indispensable nature in dealing with the present pandemic.

Right to Refuse Vaccine: Can it be exercised?

Bench opined that when a larger interest of public health comes into play, it is possible that a person who has not taken the vaccine may not reveal the symptoms but still be a silent carrier, it is doubtful whether in such circumstances the right to refuse vaccine can be exercised.

While concluding, High Court hoped that all persons with disabilities, irrespective of status and resources, are taken care of by the State in due course.

Matter to be taken up in 4 weeks, i.e. on 28-08-2021 since vaccination drive in the State had only begun in right earnest, though larger supplies of vaccine were awaited. [M. Karpagam v. Commissionerate for the Welfare of Differently Abled, WP No. 11850 of 2021, decided on 30-06-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: J.R. Midha, J., dismisses the suit filed regarding the rollout of 5G technology on observing that the suit was filed with the motive of gaining publicity and also the Court reasoned out various defects in the plaint.

I.A. No. 6905/2021 under Section 149 of CPC

Plaintiffs submitted that if the justice dispensation system requires 15-20 years for settlement of a suit, Court has lost the moral as well as legal right to require the Court fees to be paid upfront at the beginning of the suit.

Plaintiffs sought time to pay the Court fees under Section 149 read with Section 148 CPC because of COVID-19 constraints.

Court while allowing the above application and granting deferment for whatever period of time this Court deemed it fit that the quantum of Court fees as yet to be decided by this Court, thereby allowing fair opportunity to plaintiffs.

Findings

Plaintiffs valued the suit for purpose of jurisdiction at Rs 2 crore.

Law is well-settled that the valuation of the suit for the purpose of jurisdiction and Court fees has to be same.  

Section 149 of Code of Civil Procedure empowers this Court to extend the time to pay the deficient Court-fees. However, the challenge sought by the plaintiffs into the validity of the Court fees Act is not permissible under Section 149 CPC. Therefore, no case for determination of the Court fees was made out.

Bench held that the application was misconceived, frivolous and unsustainable. The law with respect to valuation and computation of Court-fees is well settled. However, the plaintiffs have taken a stand not to pay the Court-fees in utter disregard of well-settled law.

I.A. No. 6909/2021 under Section 80(2) of CPC

Plaintiffs sought dispensation from issuing notice to the State entities under Section 80(1) of CPC on the ground that same was an empty formality.

Plaintiff submitted that since the 5G roll out has not actually happened, though – equally damaging – trials involving the human population have started (which is not the same as doing trials on pigs and/ or rats, and/or in an empty Thar Desert, or on the employees of the private defendants) – so that not even one single human life is lost by these trials, the plaintiffs are agreeable if this Court, while waiving the requirement of Section 80(1) of the CPC, grants a fair opportunity to the State Defendants to show cause as to why no interim relief be granted.

Findings

It was stated that serving notice under Section 80(1) CPC to the Government is mandatory before institution of the suit against the Government.

In the Supreme Court decision of State of Andhra Pradesh v. Gundugola Venkata Suryanarayana Garu, AIR 1965 SC 11, wherein it was observed that the object of the notice under Section 80(1) CPC is to give an opportunity to the Government to reconsider the matter and to make amends and settle the claim out of Court. The Supreme Court further observed that failure to serve a notice complying with the requirements of the statute will entail dismissal of the suit

In the State of A.P. v. Pioneer Builders, A.P., (2006) 12 SCC 119, the Supreme Court held that service of notice under Section 80 is a condition precedent for the institution of a suit against the Government. The Supreme Court further observed that the object of Section 80 is the advancement of justice for securing public good by avoidance of unnecessary litigation.

Another, Supreme Court decision in State of Kerala v. Sudhir Kumar Sharma, (2013) 10 SCC 178, the Supreme Court observed that a suit filed without compliance of Section 80(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure cannot be regularized by simply filing an application under Section 80(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure

In view of the above discussion, it was held that notice under Section 80(1) is an empty formality that is contrary to the well-settled law and hence rejected.

I.A. No. 7001/2021 under Section 91(1)(b) of CPC

Plaintiff sought leave to institute the suit stating that the matter concerned public health and EMF radiation caused by cellular telecommunication technology must have caused harm to many members of general public.

I.A. No. 7002/2021 under Order VIII Rule 1 of CPC

Further, the plaintiff sought leave to sue on the ground that colossal harm is eminent to general public by the rollout of 5G Technology and the suit involved issues regarding the public health of the present as well as future generations.

Findings

Court found the plaintiff’s suit defective and not maintainable for the following reasons:

  • Order VI Rule 2(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure: Plaintiffs did not comply the said provision by not filing the statement in concise form and also by incorporating the evidence in the plaint.
  • Plaintiffs did not comply with Order VI Rule 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure and reproduced the documents in the plaint which was not supposed to be done.
  • Plaint stuffed with unnecessary scandalous frivolous and vexatious averments that are liable to be struck down under Order VI Rule 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
  • No compliance of Order I Rule 3 of CPC in joining 33 defendants in the suit.
  • Plaint not verified under Order VI Rule 5 of the CPC.
  • Plaintiffs have no personal knowledge of the averments made in the plaint and the suit is solely based upon information and legal advice.
  • Plaintiffs never approached the defendants claiming any right, hence maintainability of declaratory reliefs was doubtful.
  • The twin requirements of Section 39 of Specific Relief Act are the existence of an obligation of the defendant towards the plaintiff and the breach thereof by the defendant. Both these requirements are not fulfilled.
  • Suit has not been valued properly for the purpose of Court fees.
  • No mandatory notice given under Section 80(1) of CPC.

Bench also remarked that the observation of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw in one of the cases that: This is a classic textbook case of, how not to draft a plaint, which should be taught in law colleges and to young lawyers so that such bloopers in drafting of pleadings, damaging to one’s own client, are avoided.’ is fully applicable in the present matter

Conclusion

High Court concluded stating that the plaintiffs abused and misused the process of law which resulted in a waste of judicial time. Hence, Rs 20 lakhs as costs were imposed on the plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs filed the suit only to gain publicity which was evident from the fact that plaintiff 1 circulated the video conferencing link of the Court on her social media accounts which resulted in disruption of Court proceedings.

“Court proceedings were disrupted thrice by the unknown miscreants who continued the disruptions despite repeated warnings.”

Court issued notice to such miscreants and listed matter for reporting compliance on 05-07-2021.[Juhi Chawla v. Science and Engineering Research Board,  2021 SCC OnLine Del 3030, decided on 04-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the plaintiffs:

Deepak Khosla, Advocate along with Juhi Chawla Mehta, plaintiff 1 and Veeresh Malik, plaintiff 2.

For the Defendants:

Tushar Mehta, SGI with Amit Mahajan CGSC, Kanu Aggarwal and Dhruv Pande, Advocates for D-2/DoT/UOI

Anurag Ahluwalia, CGSC with Abhigayn Siddhant and Nitnem Singh Ghuman, Advocates for D-7/Indian Council of Medical Research

Arjun Mitra, Advocate for D-23/Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi

Kapil Sibal, Senior Advocate with Manjul Bajpai and Shashwat Bajpai, Advocates for D-25, D-26, D-27 and D-29/Cellular Operators Association of India.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed the issues relating to situation under the Covid-19 pandemic in the Tea Gardens of Assam and conditioner of workers in these Tea Gardens.

The petitioner submitted before the Court that there are about 800 Tea Gardens and 434 Tea Estates in Assam. The concern of the petitioner was that the Guidelines of the Government of India relating to management of COVID management were not being followed in these Tea Gardens and the Plantations Labour Act, 1951 and the Rules framed therein were also not being followed inasmuch as the COVID Care Centres within the Tea Gardens were taking care of only asymptomatic patients. The petitioner had raised other concerns as well, particularly, need for creation of Post COVID Clinic for treatment of patients, who had suffered from COVID and need to be advised on various aspects after their recovery.

On the other hand, the counsel for the state, Mr. D. Saikia argued that the Government had been conscious of the health of workers in these Tea Gardens and out of 800 Tea Gardens, vaccination had already started in 208 of these Tea Gardens, out of which 28000 workers had been vaccinated and out of these 2000 had also received their second dose. The counsel further submitted other figures showing that the situation is not as alarming as is being made out.

In the light of above the Bench directed the State to submit a written reply showing as to whether test are being done and what kind of test is being done, for determination of COVID-19 infection. Regarding the Mobile Medical Units (MMU) and their use in these Tea Gardens, the Bench said,

We have absolutely no doubt that since the Government already has the resources, these Mobile Medical Units must be put in use for testing and other purposes in the Tea Gardens as well, if not already being done.”

[Anjan Nagg V. Union Of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1105, decided on 24-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. W. Sharma
Counsel for the Respondent: Asstt.S.G.I

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Ravindra V. Ghuge and B. U. Debadwar, JJ., addressed the issue of dysfunctional ventilators supplied through PM Cares Fund. The Bench remarked,

We find the above situation as regards the dysfunctional ventilators supplied through the PM Cares Fund, to be quite serious. We, therefore, call upon the learned ASGI to state, as to what action would the Union of India initiate in these circumstances.

MUCORMYCOSIS TREATMENT

The State had submitted before the Court that about 1000 hospitals were empanelled in two schemes namely, ‘MJPJAY’ and ‘PMJAY’for treating patients. Out of these 1000 hospitals, 131 were specifically identified as being appropriate facilities for treating Mucormycosis treatment free of cost. It was also submitted that non-governmental hospitals which were amongst these 131 hospitals would be prohibited from charging as per their normal rates while treating patients for Mucormycosis considering the decision of the Government to extend free treatment in such facilities to all the residents of Maharashtra. Further, those private hospitals which were not empanelled under the said schemes would not be covered by the Government Resolution and if any Mucormycosis patient desires to approach a hospital which is not empanelled under the said two schemes, he would have to pay the charges as per the bills raised by such private hospitals.

P. M. CARES FUND VENTILATORS

Insofar as the 150 ventilators received through the PM Cares Fund were concerned, the State government indicated that a company by name, Jyoti CNC had manufactured the said 150 ventilators with the model name ‘Dhaman III’. It was highlighted before the Court that the GMCH had deployed 17 ventilators of which 6 were flawed and was likely to impact the treatment process of the patients. Two extremely serious flaws pertaining to ‘no in-let O2 pressure’ display and ‘patient becoming hypoxic’when on ventilator were noticed which could be life threatening.

It was further demonstrated that 41 ventilators were allotted to 5 private hospitals with the rider that they would not claim ventilators charges from the patients who used them but not a single ventilator was functional and the hospitals had declined to utilise them as a serious threat to the life of the patients exists. Similarly, 37 ventilators available with the GMCH had yet not been un-boxed as the Dean of the GMCH decided not to un-box the remaining 37 ventilators as 113 ventilators which had been put to use suffer from malfunctioning. It was clarified that, on the other hand all the 64 ventilators supplied by several Industrial Establishments were perfectly operational. Considering the above mentioned, the Bench remarked,

We find a serious issue before us as regards the defective functioning of the ventilators. Except the 37 ventilators which are yet to be un-boxed, 113 ventilators put to use are found to be defective.

Noticing some of the politicians have started visiting the Government Medical College and Hospital to find out whether the ventilators are functioning properly or not and some of the politicians have declared that all the ventilators are in good working conditions and some have stated that as the ventilators were lying idle, they have become dysfunctional. Opining that political colour should not be attached to the issue of dysfunctional ventilators as it would cause more botheration to the medical faculty than render assistance, the Bench remarked,

We express our displeasure as regards such indulgence by the people’s representatives. Contrary statements are being issued by the politicians which we find distasteful as some politicians have visited the hospital, posing as if they have the knowledge and the expertise to inspect the ventilators and recommend correctional steps.

In the above backdrop, holding that the situation as regard to the dysfunctional ventilators supplied through the PM Cares Fund was quite serious, the Bench asked the ASGI to state as to what action would the Union of India initiate in these circumstances and what remedial steps would it take.

[Registrar (Judicial) v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 751, Order dated 25-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

Amicus Curiae: Satyajit S. Bora
For State of Maharashtra: Chief PP D. R. Kale
For Union of India: ASGI Ajay G. Talhar
For the respondent 8: Adv. S. G. Chapalgaonkar
For the respondent 22: Adv. K. N. Lokhande
For the respondent 25: Adv. R. K. Ingole

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Divison Bench of Mohammad Rafiq, CJ. and Atul Sreedharan, J., heard and decided on a series of interlocutory applications which were filed with different prayers all in relation with COVID 19.

The prayers in these petitions included:

  • for an appropriate direction to the respondent/State to ensure availability of required medicines for treatment of Black Fungus (Mucormycosis) and to control cost of such treatment.
  • for direction to the State Government to install CT-Scan and MRI machine in Medical College/District Hospital, Ratlam. These applications were disposed of with liberty to the applicants to give suggestions at the time of hearing of the aforesaid application.
  • praying that the applicant was given time-slot for vaccination, but no such vaccine was provided to her. In this regard, she made complaint and the Court in this regard directed that upon the applicant/intervener approaching the Chief Medical and Health Officer, Jabalpur, he shall ensure that time slot is provided to her for the purpose of vaccination and she is vaccinated.
  • prayer that the State Government be directed to also provide the cost of medicines for treatment under the Ayushman Bharat Nirmayan Yojna for treatment of the persons covered in that scheme.
  • for a direction to the State Government to take appropriate action against the erring persons for selling fake Remdesivir and other spurious drugs for committing offences of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, apart from those under National Disaster Management Act, Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940, he further prayed the affected persons or in case of death, the family members of the deceased, be granted adequate compensation as per provision of Section 27 of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940.

The Court in this regard opined that no such specific direction can be issued by this Court while dealing the matter under the scope of PIL. It is always for the Investigating Officer to find out on the basis of evidence collected by him during the course of investigation as to what offence is made out and accordingly submit the chargesheet. If and when the chargesheet is submitted, the Court concerned will have the occasion to examine whether or not such offences are prima facie made out for proceeding further in the trial or any other offence is made out on the basis of evidence collected by the Investigator.

  • prayer to issue direction to the State Government to lodge an FIR in the matter of death of five persons due to shortage of oxygen in the Galaxy Super Speciality Hospital, Jabalpur in accordance with the findings recorded in the Magisterial Enquiry conducted in the matter. Advocate General submitted that the FIR had already been lodged and the investigation was going on, in this view the Court did not deem fit to pass any order.
  • prayer for quashing of the order dated 20-5-2021 passed by the Collector, Indore by which a complete lockdown has been imposed in the Indore city and supply of all the essential items had been stalled. The Court opined that Collector, Indore should review his order and ensure just and equitable method of having all grocery shops, daily need shops, fruits and vegetable vendors, open during specified hours of five days a week so that neither the residents of Indore city nor the small vendors face any hardship.
  • the State Government should be required to demonstrate its preparedness to deal with the apprehended third wave of Covid-19 and submit the time frame and action plan to vaccinate the entire population of the State.
  • A prayer invited attention of the Court that the State Government has not taken any effective measures regarding fixation of the maximum rates for treatment of the Covid patients in various Private Hospitals/Nursing Homes by indicating capping of the such charges, in compliance of the order passed by this Court on 19-4-2021.

Amicus Curiae submitted that pursuant to the order passed by this Court on 19-5-2021, he had interaction with the representatives of the Indian Medical Association and M.P. Nursing Homes Association. According to him, the discussions resulted into fruitful suggestions. They are ready to make addition of 40% as directed by the State Government in its order dated 4-9-2020, invoking its power under the National Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act, on the charges reflected in the bills of various kind of the treatments and facilities provided by them (private hospitals/nursing homes) in the month of January and February 2020 immediately before the start of the pandemic. The Court opined that , the package method of charging has to be discouraged and the suggestion which has emerged in the deliberations made by the learned Amicus Curiae with the representatives of the Indian Medical Association and M.P. Nursing Homes Association that charge for the various kind of treatments and facilities being provided by the nursing homes and private hospitals in the months of January and February, 2020 may form basis of adding 40% thereto, to fix outer limit capping of charges taken for treatment of Covid 19 patient which appears to be reasonable criteria and would be beneficial to the public at large and save them of undue exploitation.

  • Prayer that direction be issued to the State Government to declare Black Fungus (Mucormycosis) as “notified infectious disease” and that State Government be directed to regulate supply and cost of Amphotericin-B injections and any other medicines that would be required to treatment of Mucormycosis, so that patients and their families are not exploited.

The Court in this regard impressed upon the State Government to effective take steps so as to save the life of more than 1000 patients who are infected and many more who might be infected during the course of time. In regard to vaccination the Court opined that since as per Action Taken Report filed today by the State Government, tender has not been issued so far, the State Government may consider suitably increasing the number of doses for procurement through the global tender based on the actual requirement, particularly when each person is required to be given two doses for complete vaccination.

From the submissions made the Court concluded that the State Government has not received even half of the promised quantity of the vaccination doses for the month of May 2021, either from the Central Government for the age group of 45 and above or even from two major manufacturers within the country in response to orders placed with them. The global tender issued by the different State Governments have also failed to yield in positive result.

The Court further opined that the Central Government ought to reconsider efficacy of its vaccination policy. The Central Government should consider taking upon itself the responsibility of providing required number of vaccination doses to the State by setting up more and more units in all the States with required licence from the local manufacturers, to ramp up the production of the vaccination on war footing. Additionally, the Central Government should by itself consider procuring the vaccination doses in sufficient quantity from the manufacturers from outside the country to provide the same to the States, rather than leaving it upon the States to do so. The Central Government should also consider procuring the medicine Amphotericin-B or any other equivalent medicine by setting up more number of manufacturing unit within the country or from outside the country wherever, they may be available for immediately treatment for saving hundreds of precious lives of the citizens.

A detailed affidavit/Action Taken Report regarding the preparedness of the State Government for apprehended third wave of Covid-19 to come up on 31-05-2021.

[In Reference (Suo Motu) v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine MP 963, decided on 24-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance:

For petitioner: Mr. Siddharth Gupta

Amicus curiae: Mr Naman Nagrath, Senior Advocate with Mr Jubin Prasad, Advocate a

For Respondents: Mr Purushaindra Kaurav, Advocate General, Mr Pushpendra Yadav, Additional Advocate General and Mr Swapnil Ganguly, Deputy Advocate General, Mr Jitendra Kumar Jain, Assistant Solicitor General and Mr Vikram Singh, Advocate for the Union of India, Mr Shivendra Pandey, Advocate, Mr Shreyas Pandit, Advocate, Mr A.M. Mathur, Senior Advocate assisted by Mr Abhinav P. Dhanodkar, Advocate.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Chief Justice and Aravind Kumar J. gave a slew of directions regarding vaccine allocation, oxygen supply, food security and dignified burial of COVID dead bodies.

Issue 1: Delay in test result reporting

The Court taking stock of the situation in light of a recent incident where a staff of High Court died due to covid as the test result was not communicated to the deceased on time and hence he could not take treatment for COVID-19.

Directions:

  • State Government must initiate appropriate action in accordance with law against all concerned who are responsible for this lapse and place on record a report on the action taken on the next date.
  • State Government shall issue a direction to all the Laboratories to ensure that such incidents are not repeated and test reports are made available within 24 hours.

Issue 2: Vaccine Allocation

About 26, 00,000 beneficiaries in the State who have taken the first dose of COVISHIELD or COVAXIN have not received the second dose though it is overdue as per the prevailing norms of the Central Government. The total stock of vaccines available in the State is only 9, 37,780 of doses. Hence, there is no possibility of majority of 26, 00,000 beneficiaries getting the second dose which is already overdue. The situation which prevails today clearly shows that if all the available 9, 37,780 doses are to be used for administering the second dose, a substantial number of beneficiaries who have taken the first dose will not get the second dose.

The Court observed that there cannot be any distinction between the words ‘due’ and ‘overdue’ when it comes to administration of the second dose. Once as per the existing timelines, the second dose is due, it is an obligation of the Governments to ensure that the second dose is provided. If the second dose is not provided, it will be a violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Court further observed that If those who have taken the first dose are not administered the second dose on the respective due dates, apart from violation of the fundamental rights of the said citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, if they are required to take the first dose again, it will be a huge national waste of the first dose already administered to them.

A mandatory direction to both the Governments regarding ensuring sufficient procurement of quantity of vaccine doses however was not issued in light of submission made by the Additional Solicitor General. It was stated that a decision on allocation of vaccine is likely to be taken and it was assured that the Central Government will make every endeavour to bridge the gap to ensure that no one is denied the second dose which has become due.

The sum and substance of the guidelines by the Central Government appears to be that the first priority of the State Government should be to provide vaccine to those who have taken the first dose.

“By way of an illustration, we may record here that if a person has taken the first dose of COVISHIELD more than eight weeks back, he must get priority over the person who has completed seven weeks from the date of taking the first dose of COVISHIELD. Thus, it is mandatory for the State Government to ensure that a rational and fair formula is adopted for giving second dose of vaccination.”

Directions:

  • State Government must abide by the said guidelines considering the desperate and critical situation created due to failure to administer second dose to about 20,00,000 citizens.
  • State Government shall place on record all the facts and figures (district-wise) regarding the second dose administered throughout the State

Issue 3: Food Security

The Government of India decided to allocate free of cost food grains at 5 Kgs, per person, per month to nearly 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) over and above NFSA Food grains for next two months i.e. May and June 2021 on the same pattern as the earlier “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY)”. Under this Special scheme (PM-GKAY) around 80 crore NFSA beneficiaries covered under both the categories of NFSA, namely Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Householders (PHH) will be provided with an additional quota of free of cost food grains (Rice/wheat) at a scale of 5 Kgs per person, per month, over and above their regular  monthly entitlements under NFSA.

There is an issue regarding implementation of the instant scheme which is being implemented through Indira Canteens throughout the State.

 Directions:

  • It is directed to both the Governments to take a call on the issue whether the benefits of Atma Nirbhara Scheme as applicable last year can be extended to those who are not holding a ration card of any State.
  • State Government shall also identify the vulnerable sections of the society who have been affected by the partial lockdown.
  • State Government shall take a decision immediately on the issue of restoring Dasoha helpline to know who are the persons who are deprived of the benefits of the scheme of the State Government of supplying cooked food as well as well as the scheme of the Central Government.

Highlights of the Report of the Monitoring Committee of the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority

There are two main issues which arise on the basis of the said report. These are as follows:

  • Compensation in Chamarajanagar District Hospital Tragedy

The Court relied on judgments Rudul Sah v. State of Bihar 1983 (4) SCC 141 and Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, AIR 1993 SC 1960 and observed “that in a public law remedy in the form of a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, Writ Court can grant compensation for violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

  • Responsibility for lapses

The Court observed that the Committee has found instances of tampering with the relevant record. The Court directed that “the record shall be retained in the custody of the Chief Secretary will continue to operate. Needless to add that either the Commissioner appointed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 or any Investigating Agency needs to look into the record, the Chief Secretary will make available the said record.”

Observations regarding Oxygen

“….it is for the State Government to immediately communicate the requirements of the State to the concerned Authority of the Central Government in view of the assurance recorded therein.”

Observations regarding Dignified Burial or Cremation

The Court observed

“….State Government permit burial of the body of a person who has died due to COVID-19 without obtaining a death certificate.””

The Court finally directed “the learned Advocate General or the learned Additional Advocate General convenes a meeting of the learned counsel appearing for the parties so that the issues regarding compliances can be discussed and a proper response is given on the next date”

[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 12301, decided on 13-05-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ. and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., took up a PIL wherein the counsel of the petitioner, Mr A. Chamuah had filed an interlocutory application stating that in Assam persons who were suffering from COVID, although they had an insurance cover were still not being admitted in private hospitals inspite of directions issued in this regard for taking care a COVID patients (who have insurance cover), vide order of the Regulatory Authority dated 04-03-2020.

Mr D. Saikia, Advocate General, Assam placed on record before the Court that on enquiry being done at their end, nine private hospitals were contacted in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Bongaigaon and the replies which they had received from these private hospitals is that inspite of the late payment in many cases, have not denied admission to a patient suffering from covid, except in some cases where the employees of the hospital were also suffering from COVID. Enquiries have also been made regarding the old lady, who was allegedly denied treatment from cancer as she was suffering from COVID.

The Court granted one week time to Assistant Solicitor General of India, Mr R.K.D. Choudhury to get instructions from the Insurance Regulatory Authority and to file a detailed reply regarding the same so that there is a better position to examine the matter. Court to hear the matter on 31-05-2021.

[Lawyers Association, Guwahati v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1100, decided on 24-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, Cj., and G. S. Kulkarni, J., expressed its displeasure on casual attitude of the authorities in complying with the Court’s orders. The Bench, while criticizing the strategy adopted by the State government for allocation of Remdesivir drug to the hospitals, said,

“The allotment of Remdesivir appears to have been made on the basis of ‘functional bed capacity’ of each of the hospitals. Such allocation whether would cater to the actual need of the patients has not been explained to us.”

The Bench observed that the data furnished by the State Government did not reflect a clear picture in regard to availability of ‘Remdesivir’to the needy patients, as the same had been done on the basis of ‘functional bed capacity’ of each of the hospitals. Expressing displeasure on the effectiveness of such allocation, the Bench directed the State to file an affidavit indicating whether it would cater to the actual need of the patients. The Bench clarified it to the government,

“Our concern would be solely that no patient who is in actual need of the drug in the course of his treatment is deprived of the availability of such drug. It may also happen that such drug being allocated on the basis of ‘functional capacity’ may result into allocation in a hospital wherein there is no real time requirement of the said drug.”

Noticing that the numbers of active patients are reduced almost by two lakhs, the Bench opined that proportionately the Oxygen requirement also ought to have reduced. Hence, the State government was directed to place on record the correct position in regard to the availability of Oxygen.

With regard to the extra legal supply of the medicine/drug Remdesivir at the hands of political and film personalities, the Bench directed the central as well as the state government to submit their records as to how such drug, which is in such short supply, is available to these personalities for distribution to public at large. The Bench further asked reports on whether Remdesivir as supplied by these personalities would suffice the medical test of being non-spurious and genuine. Commenting on a recent trend of submitting “brief notes” in compliances of Court’s order, the Bench expressed its displeasure over such practices and said, “the compliances should be placed on record by way of affidavits. Henceforth we do not permit and continue this practice of submitting ‘brief notes’.”

In regard to the issue of the dashboard indicating the correct figures of availability of beds, the Bench urged the Municipal Corporations concerned and the State Government to have expert opinion of all the stakeholders so that the dashboard reflects the correct picture. The Court suggested the authorities to get inputs of the Air Traffic Controller/Civil Aviation Department and the Railways for correct reflection of the data, information and technology used by them for preparation of up-to-date dashboards. The Bench opined that such facility should not only meet urgent requirement during the pandemic, but it should be available throughout for times to come in regard to all kinds of ailments requiring hospitalization. Hence, the Union of India, State Government, Municipal Corporations and all other authorities were directed to deliberate on such issues and make an endeavor to prepare an ideal dashboard.

[Sneha Nirav Marjadi v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 734, order dated 19-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

Counsels for the Petitioner: Simil Purohit a/w Arshil Shah, Nirav Marjadi, Dharmapal
Dave, Parisha Shah, Pariket Shah, Vishal Raman, Smita
Durve and Drasti Jani
Counsels for the State:  Akshay Shinde, B Panel Council with Addl. G.P. Geeta Shastri
For Municiple Council of Greater Mumbai: A.Y. Sakhare with Rohan Mirpury and K. H.
Mastakar
Counsels for UOI: ASG Anil C. Singh a/w Aditya Thakkar with D. P. Singh, Yash Momaya i/b  Gul Asnani
Counsel for Pune Municipal Corporation: Abhijit Kulkarni

Counsel for the Intervener: Nitin P. Deshpande

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The bench of Mohammad Rafiq, CJ and Atul Sreedharan, J has issued notice to the Madhya Pradesh Government after a PIL was filed before the High Court seeking direction to the Madhya Pradesh Government to initiate the exercise of inviting global tender for the procurement of fixed lot of vaccines for immunizing the entire lot of its residents through a State-level immunization programme.

While it was submitted before the Court that the that the Central Government has adopted a policy according to which it can issue licence in favour of local manufacturers within the State of Madhya Pradesh for manufacturing the vaccine namely Covaxin, the Court listed the matter for further hearing on May 24, 2021.

The petition filed by Sunil Gupta, an elected Member of the State Bar Council, Madhya Pradesh, highlighted that already, a number of States have initiated steps in this regard and have either already floated global tender for the said process or are in the process of issuing one.

It further submits that if the State takes over the responsibility of inviting a global tender and undertakes to procure the entire lot for its unvaccinated (around 85%) population, then the said exercise would be completed within a period of 3-4 months conveniently without much of involvement of the private sector, eliminating the possibilities of the poor or the have-not section of the society been deprived of timely vaccination owing to lack of financial resources with him.

Read all about the petition here: 

‘Step into the shoes of a parent for your citizens and invite global tender for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines’. Read what the PIL in Madhya Pradesh High Court states

[SUNIL GUPTA v. THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH, WP-9487-2021, order dated 19.05.2021]


Appearances before the Court by:

For Petitioner: Advocate Siddharth Gupta

For Respondents: Advocate General Purushaindra Kaurav, Assistant Solicitor General J. K. Jain and Advocate Vikram Singh

Hot Off The PressNews

Madhya Pradesh High Court: As the nation is crippled with rising COVID-19 cases and shortage of vaccines, an important PIL has been filed before the High Court seeking direction to the Madhya Pradesh Government to initiate the exercise of inviting global tender for the procurement of fixed lot of vaccines for immunizing the entire lot of its residents through a State-level immunization programme.

The petition filed by Sunil Gupta, an elected Member of the State Bar Council, Madhya Pradesh, highlighted that already, a number of States have initiated steps in this regard and have either already floated global tender for the said process or are in the process of issuing one.

In the State of Madhya Pradesh, the population which is required to be vaccinated of the 18+ category is roughly about 5.49 crores.

Here’s the breakdown the statistics:

Total population in Madhya Pradesh 8,40,40,000

 

Total vaccinated population

(as on 13th May, 2021)

90,33,231
Total people vaccinated in the 18-45 age group

(as on 13th May, 2021)

8,08,762
Percentage of population vaccinated in M.P

(as on 13th May, 2021)

10.74%

Apart from various problems that are arising to ensure vaccination, the petition also highlights the issue of profiteering by the private hospitals and

medical practitioners, with private hospitals charging Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000 per dose per person.The bigger the brand, the higher the rate of the very same dose of vaccine inoculated to the same category of patient by the private service providers.

“Where on one hand, the State Government is not able to ensure speedier and widespread vaccination due to availability of doses, on the other hand, private entities across the country are able to squeeze a lion’s share in the pie by getting the doses and vaccinating the people at much higher rates than that on which the Central Government is procuring, i.e., at the rate of Rs. 150 per dose per person.”

The petition argues that if the State purchases a bulk lot of vaccines by placing a direct purchase order without any interference by the Central Government through a direct tender process, as has been done with many other categories of drugs in normal course, then the problem shall be resolved.

The Global Tender floated by the Uttar Pradesh Medical Supplies Corporation limited for procurement of vaccines for Covid-19 also finds mention in the petition and is termed as “a role model in itself to be emulated and adopted by all the States of the country.”

Under the Uttar Pradesh’s Global Tender, the time period within which the entire contracted dose of vaccine is to be supplied by the concerned successful bidder to the State (which is two to three months period). Thereafter the entire lot of vaccine is in control and ownership of the State Government, which thereafter fixes the cap at which the concerned vaccination dose is to be sold on the field by the concerned authorized sellers. Thus, the State essentially becomes the “umbrella authority” in control and regulation of the entire lot of vaccines deciding how to get the citizens inoculated timely and without administrative delay and day to day bottlenecks.

States of Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi have taken the in-principle decision of floating Global e-tenders for purchase of vaccines towards ramping up the process of immunization drive at the State level.

Therefore, to ensure availability of a fixed confirmed cartel of vaccine with the State government for implementing a time bound immunization program in the State, it is necessary that some concrete steps must be taken.

The petitioner submits that inviting vaccines at a global level from international players will also evoke interest by the international companies for orienting their resources towards supplying their developed drugs in India (after statutory approvals) and also meet the acute shortage and availability issues of the vaccines being faced by various States including the State of Madhya Pradesh.

It is further submitted that involving multiple players in the field will also enable the State Governments to go for the best choice as also negotiate and develop bargaining power with the international players as also domestic companies for the supply of vaccines for immunizing its residents.

On the issue of price fixation, the petition states that the State must not only float the tender and call for the vaccine, but must also ensure that the vaccines are administered to each and every citizen at the fixed capped price both by the private as well as government players on which the State is undertaking procurement. This will eliminate any prospects of profiteering, hoarding and black marketing of the vaccine, procured through the Global e-tender by the State government.

If the State takes over the responsibility of inviting a global tender and undertakes to procure the entire lot for its unvaccinated (around 85%) population, then the said exercise would be completed within a period of 3-4 months conveniently without much of involvement of the private sector, eliminating the possibilities of the poor or the have-not section of the society been deprived of timely vaccination owing to lack of financial resources with him.

“Immunization at the State level is a concept which is not new and is being undertaken with respect to multiple other ailments like tuberculosis, polio, measles, etc diseases which have been a cause of pandemic in the past. Therefore, the State can very well step into the shoes of a parent for its citizens and undertake the said exercise of undertaking global tender for the procurement of vaccines in one go.”


Petitioner’s counsel: Advocate Siddharth R. Gupta 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Parth Prateem Sahu JJ. laid down allotment of vaccines in percentage to the ‘Antyodaya Group’, the persons belonging to the ‘Below Poverty Line’ and the persons belonging to the ‘Above Poverty Line’.

The present issue has come up before the Court regarding that the vaccine allotted to a particular category like Front Line Worker or Antyodaya or BPL (Below Poverty Line) remained unused in a particular vaccination center at the end of the day and the previous orders under the same PIL no. does not provide as to how the unused vaccines would be redistributed on the following day or any other day. Also the vaccine quantity allocated to Antyodaya category persons remains unused and at the same time persons belonging to other category and willing to be vaccinated returned without being vaccinated at the end of the day.

The vaccination programme is going on by distributing the following quota of vaccines to the eligible categories:

No. Category Percentage of Vaccine Allocation
1. Frontline Workers 20% of the total vaccine doses available
2. Antyodaya Ration Card 15% of the remaining 80% vaccine doses available or 12% of the total vaccine doses available
3. BPL (Below Poverty Line) 65% of the remaining 80% vaccine doses available or 52% of the total vaccine doses available
4. APL (Above Poverty Line) 20% of the remaining 80% vaccine doses available or 16% of the total vaccine doses available

It was submitted that non-utilisation of vaccines is, in fact, delaying the whole vaccination programme for the persons who are willing to be vaccinated, but they could not get the vaccination because the quantity allocated to their category is exhausted on a given date.

State submitted that the unused vaccines for any particular category are redistributed. The Court further listed the matter for 19-05-2021 for consideration regarding non-utilisation of Antyodaya or any other category vaccines at the end of a particular day and an affidavit to this effect shall be filed.

[Suo Moto WP (PIL) v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 1110, decided on 17-05-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Amicus Curiae: Mr. Prafull N Bharat

Advocate for the State: Mr. Satish Chandra Verma, Mr. V Giri, Mr. Vivek Ranjan Tiwari, Mr. Chandresh Shrivastava, and Mr. Vikram Sharma

Advocate for UOI : Mr. Ramakant Mishra,

Advocate for Railways: Mr. Abhishek Sinha,

Advocate for SLSA: Mr. Ashish Shrivastava

Advocates for the respective Interveners:, Mr.  Sandeep Dubey, Mr.  Palash Tiwari, Mr. Sudeip Shrivastava, Mr. A. V. Sridhar, Mr. Anumeh Shrivastava, Mr.  Himanshu Choubey, Intervenor in Person.

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ. and S. Talapatra, J., perused the latest affidavit filed by the State dated 16-05-2021 in which had several details particularly concerning the preparedness of the State-administration to deal with emerging Covid related situation.

The affidavit contained availability of Covid beds in different hospitals with continuous oxygen supply and other support systems. It was stated that in addition to the existing hospital beds with pipelined oxygen supply, 150 hospital beds which currently have oxygen cylinders as well as oxygen concentrators, shall be covered with oxygen supply through pipeline within a period of two weeks from today. State assured that this quantity was more than sufficient to cover not only the current requirement but any possible foreseeable future requirements. The affidavit further provided details of the vaccination progress in the State giving category-wise such as, coverage of first and second doses to healthcare workers, frontline workers, citizens over 60 years, those in the age group of 45 to 59 years etc.

The Court noted the details provided by the State administration and brought the attention of the administration towards two main aspects which required immediate action which were the high infection cases in State-run orphanages and jails. The Court requested the administration to ensure maximum possible testing of these children, further in the case of jail inmates the State which has restricted the movement of a citizen, of course by authority of law, has the onus to ensure that his health is not jeopardized on account of being kept confined. The Court further brought notice of the State-administration towards the requirement of round the clock helpline which is efficient, functional and provides all necessary information and support to the relatives of the patients who are in need.

The Court listed the matter on 24-05-2021 with a devised plan in relation to abovementioned concerns.

[Court on its own motion, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 275, decided on 17-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

For Respondent(s): Mr S S Dey, Advocate General, Mr Debalaya Bhattacharya, Govt. Advocate, Ms Ayantika Chakrabroty, Advocate.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Noticing alarming contradictions in death records filed by state authorities and cremation records of the crematorium, the Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ., and S. Kumar, J., warned the State authorities to verify all facts before placing it before the Court lest it will amount to filing of false/incomplete affidavit. Comparing the crematorium records with government affidavit, the Bench said,

“Now, this document evidently contradicts the affidavit of the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar in which the number of deaths reported since 01-03-2021 in District-Buxar is only 6.”

As per the detailed report submitted by the DM, total 81 dead bodies were found flowing in River Ganges. The postmortem of all the dead bodies was conducted and DNA profiling carried out. After following the due procedure, last rites of all the dead bodies were performed. Evidently, some of the dead bodies were found to be in a mutilated condition. As per the deponent, the dead bodies had “come from Uttar Pradesh due to the upstream of river Ganga.”

The State submitted that all remedial measures has already been taken for avoiding pollution in the river Ganges and as such “Mahajal was put on the Boarder of U.P. and Bihar on 10.05.2021.” This fact stands taken with the authorities in the State of Uttar Pradesh. On the direction of the Court, the Commissioner had elaborately dealt with the issue of dead bodies found flowing in River Ganges at Buxar. On the perusal of the affidavit of the Commissioner, the Bench found out a very disturbing picture revealing from 05-05-2021 to 14-05-2021 about 789 persons were cremated only at one cremation ground, i.e. Muktidham Charitarban, Buxar. The Bench remarked that, the affidavit of the commission had evidently contradict the affidavit filed by the State in which the number of deaths reported since 1st March, 2021 in District-Buxar is only 6. In Bihar, District Buxar has a huge population of 17 lakhs persons. The Bench expressed concerns that,

If in ten days only in one crematorium 789 persons were cremated then what would be the position in the entire District and that too of persons belonging to all faith.

Noticing that it was not clear from both the affidavits as to whether the deaths occurred/persons cremated were suffering from Covid-19, the Bench directed the authorities to determine to determine the same and further ascertain the age group of these persons. The Bench warned the State that all facts must be verified from all sources and then only placed before the Bench else it will be considered a false/incomplete affidavit.

Observing that the records of death and births had not been updated on the dedicated government website, the Bench said, “we see no reason as to why the deaths, be it 6 or 789, would not have been updated on the official website.

Lastly, directions were issued to the State to depute at least two technically qualified persons having proficiency in computers with the AG for updating and collecting the data.

[Shivani Kaushik v. Union of India, Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 353 of 2021, order dated 13-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner/s: Shivani Kaushik (In Person)

For the UOI: Dr K.N. Singh (ASG)

For the State: Anjani Kumar, AAG-4

For the Respondent 5: Mrs Binita Singh

For Respondent 6: Shivender Kishore,

For PMC: Prasoon Sinha

For DMCH : Mr. Bindhyachal Rai, Advocate
For GMC : Mr. Rabindra Kr. Priyadarshi ,
For the Intervener : Mr. Rajiv Kumar Singh, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Taking into consideration the reason of urgency i.e., acute surge in Covid-19 pandemic from which people are suffering and dire need of Oxygen, the Division Bench of Ravi Ranjan, C.J., and Sujit Narayan Prasad, J., directed to release Oxygen cylinders which were lying in judicial custody in connection with various cases.

The AG, Mr. Rajiv Ranjan, had preferred this interlocutory application in which urgency had been shown for passing appropriate order for utilization of Oxygen cylinders which are lying in judicial custody in different districts in connection with various cases for the purpose of using those Oxygen cylinders to the persons who are suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and who are in need of Oxygen. The AG had urged that such Oxygen cylinders may be directed to be released in favour of concerned District Health Committee and once the situation will be normalized or there will no need of such Oxygen cylinders, the same will be returned to the concerned police station.

Opining that Oxygen cylinders are of prime importance in saving life of persons suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and that number of such Oxygen cylinders are lying in judicial custody in connection with various cases and if it would be released after imposing appropriate condition, no prejudice would be caused to the parties to the lis rather it will be more beneficial for the people at large, who are suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and further the State Government will be in better position in facilitating the treatment of persons who are suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and are in dire need of Oxygen, the Bench ordered to release the Oxygen cylinder(s) without prejudicing the right of the parties on following conditions:

  1. The District Health Committee of concerned district shall furnish an affidavit with an undertaking before the concerned court for release of such Oxygen cylinder(s).
  2. The undertaking shall contain all details of cylinder viz. quantity of oxygen or its weight etc. and further with specific undertaking that such cylinder would be returned within a period of three months or even earlier if it will be required by the Court.
  3. The Courts, where cases are pending shall pass necessary order by recording such undertaking furnished by the District Health Committee.
  4. The District Health Committee was further directed to ensure identification of such cylinders before release and further secure return of such Cylinder on “as is where is” basis.

Further, it was also directed that the Deputy Commissioner-cum of the District Health Committee concerned shall with consultation of Civil Surgeon of the respective district ensure efficacy of such cylinder(s) and only after testing its perfection it may be used in order to avoid any casualty.

Additionally, taking note of media report regarding precarious condition of Sadar Hospital and death of five patients there due to interruption in supply of Oxygen, the Bench stated,

It is very unfortunate that in the Sadar Hospital at Ranchi, as reported that five patients, who were suffering from Covid-19, have died due to interruption in supply of oxygen

Accordingly, the State was directed to conduct a detailed enquiry on the issue and fix accountability upon the erring person(s) and submit its report. Further, the AG was directed to apprise the Court by filing affidavit with respect to the arrangement made in the Sadar Hospitals of each and every district of the State as also the arrangement made at Medical College, Dhanbad, containing therein the details of beds supported with Oxygen, number of the doctors and para-medical staffs as also the position of oxygen in the said hospitals.

[Suo Motu v. State of Jharkhand, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 368, order dated 08-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner: Rajendra Krishna, Advocate

For the State: Rajiv Ranjan, AG and Sachin Kumar, AAG-II

For the U.O.I.: Rajiv Sinha, A.S.G.I.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Division Bench of Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Sing, JJ., addressed various issues with regard to unavailability of ambulance, wastage of vaccine and inadequate medical equipments and staff etc.

Issues before the Court

The Amicus Curiae, Mr. Rupinder Khosla had highlighted before the Court the need for more ventilators in GMSH-16, Chandigarh. According to him, only six ventilators are functional at the moment and the hospital is facing difficulty in view of large number of patients pouring in for medical help. Apart from this, the issue of wastage of vaccine vials which are opened for vaccination in all the three States was also highlighted. The Amicus Curiae emphasized that such wastage needs to be avoided at all costs as the country is facing paucity of vaccine after the eligible age group has been lowered to 18 years. It was also submitted that the ambulance facilities provided by the Government are over burdened. As a result, certain private parties are providing this facility but at a higher cost, making it a business venture. Further, the issue of scarcity of para medical staff was also raised before the Court.

The AG of Punjab, Mr. Atul Nanda had highlighted that out of 82 ventilators supplied to the Punjab 71 are faulty. He further submits that Punjab needs about 4 lakh vials of Covishield vaccine immediately. Similarly, counsel for UT of Chandigarh, Mr. Pankaj Jain had made a  request that a separate quota of 5 MT of liquid oxygen be exclusively kept for PGIMER, Chandigarh as it is a premier medical institute which is catering the needs of nearby States as well, therefore, it needs to be ensured that it does not face any problem in technical and support or oxygen supply.

The ASG of India, Mr. Satya Pal Jain submitted that as regards 71 faulty ventilators to the State of Punjab, the matter would be examined immediately and necessary steps be taken for rectifying the fault at the earliest. He further submitted that sufficient number of PSA Generators had been supplied to various Government Hospitals in UT, Chandigarh which all are functional now. The request of 5 MT of oxygen for PGIMER exclusively, would also be processed expeditiously.

Analysis and Directions by the Court

As regards the wastage of available quantity of vaccination, the Bench opined that the state of Haryana needs to examine whether Rule 24 of the Haryana Services Rule (General) can be invoked. The Rule reads as under:- Every government employee shall get himself vaccinated and re-vaccinated at any time when so directed by the Government by general or special order. State of Punjab was also directed to examine whether there is any pari materia provision in the Punjab Rules as well which makes vaccination compulsory for Government employees. As regards ambulance issue, apart from Government facility, the nodal agencies in all the Districts shall monitor the ambulance facilities being provided by the private operators. They may call upon voluntary agencies, NGOs etc. for providing additional ambulances. Additionally, tele-consultancy shall be made available to general public 24×7 and services of doctors/final year medical students can also be sought.

The central government was directed to examine the possibility of providing more ventilators to GMSH-16, Chandigarh hospital. Considering the critical care PGIMER, Chandigarh is providing, keeping in view its advanced medical expertise, the Bench directed the State governments to cooperate in every respect in order to ensure that its functioning remains smooth and efficient.

Reminding that in Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity v. State of West Bengal, 1996(4) SCC 37, the Supreme Court had directed that immediate medical help is right to life and similar views had been echoed in cases Parmanand Katara v. Union of India, 1989(4) SCC 286 wherein it was directed to give priority to the health of citizens; the Bench directed all the three States to impress upon the private diagnostic centres to reasonably slash their rates for CT Scan for Covid patients.

Lastly, observing that under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) incorporated in Section 135 of the Companies Act, it is obligatory for the Companies to contribute at least 2% of their profit as social responsibility, the Bench asked the States to ask the corporate houses to participate in fighting the crisis by providing ambulances, oxygen beds, ventilators, CT Scan machines etc. to Government Hospitals so that economically weaker strata of the society has easy access to such facilities.

[Rishi v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine P&H 836, order dated 12-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The Division Bench of Pankaj Mithal, Cj., and Sanjay Dhar, J., had taken suo moto action for initiating this PIL concerning Covid-19 pandemic; as the Union Territory was in the spate of second wave of Covid-19 Pandemic.

Amicus curiae, Mrs Monika Kohli, had expressed anxiety that as lawyers everyday both in Jammu and Srinagar Wings of High Court are getting infected by Covid-19 and they have not been vaccinated, there is threat to their life which needs to be addressed immediately by getting them vaccinated. She had further submitted that the families of the lawyers who have died recently due to Covid-19 may be provided some financial assistance.

Similarly, the issue of short supply of Remdesivir and deficiency of doctors and nursing staff as well as the oxygen to treat the Covid patients had been highlighted before the Court. In some writ petitions, the petitioners had insisted that the government be called upon to provide complete statistics in regard to the above items and to make operational the oxygen plants which are under erection for some time. The petitioners had also highlighted the shortage of ventilators.

The directions were also sought with regard to supply oxygen cylinders for use by the patients who are not admitted in the hospitals but are otherwise suffering from serious ailments and are home quarantined. And that some mechanism should be evolved so that supply of oxygen to the persons who are getting treatment at home of their serious ailments or those who have been home quarantined due to non-availability of beds in hospitals, may continue uninterrupted.

The Advocate General, Sh. D.C.Raina had submitted on behalf of government that there is no problem of supply of oxygen and there is no ban on use of oxygen for patients at home. They can have the supply of oxygen on medical prescription through Nodal officers. Regarding vaccination of lawyers, it was submitted that there is no difficulty in getting the lawyers above 45 years of age, registered and vaccinated in a group. But the lawyers between the age group of 18 to 45, as per the procedure provided by the government of India, have to get themselves registered online. Once they are registered, they will be vaccinated as per their turn or on the slot available.

The Court remarked that it is conscious of the fact that government is taking due steps for controlling the pandemic and to provide full medical support. However, still much more is required to be done and directions of the Court are primarily needed in respect of registration and vaccination of lawyers, supply of oxygen to patients at home, deficiency of ventilators, oxygen, beds and medication including remedisivir; and doctors, if any.

Insofar as the registration and vaccination of lawyers above the age of 45 years is concerned, the Bench directed the Registry of the Court to discuss the issue with the Finance Commissioner, Health and Medical Education to get some date fixed for the registration and vaccination and to carry out vaccination in groups either at some suitable place in the High Court Campus or Medical College or Hospital within a week. With regard to vaccination of lawyers between the age group of 18 to 45 they were advised to get themselves registered for vaccination and the government was directed to provide them vaccination facilities on priority at the earliest, if possible within a period of two weeks from the date of registration. The Bench said,

In case any family of the lawyer is in need of financial assistance either on account of medical expenditure or due to the death, the family members may approach the Bar Association with an application.

On the application being forwarded, the Court would speedily consider it and endeavor to provide maximum financial aid out of the welfare fund. At the same time, government is also directed to consider for making some additional budgetary allocation, as the funds available may not be sufficient to meet the requirement.

To resolve difficulty faced in the supply of oxygen to the patients at home, the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education is directed to nominate adequate number of Nodal Officers for each city and to publicise their full details with contact number etc so that such patients or their relatives may approach them with proper medical prescription for the supply of oxygen and once they are so approached they shall take immediate and adequate steps to ensure the supply of oxygen where it is found to be needed without causing any harassment to anyone.

Lastly, the Bench stated, we hope and trust that no one would make any effort to draw any mileage out of it so as to reduce it to a personal interest litigation or a publicity interest litigation and the media would also act cautiously in the best interest of the public and country.

[Court on its own motion v. Government of India, 2021 SCC OnLine J&K 334, decided on 05-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

Counsels for the Petitioners: Sunil Sethi, U.K.Jalali, K.S.Johal, Abhinav Sharma, Pranav Kohli, Rohit Kapoor and Ajay Bakshi

For Government of India: AG D.C.Raina Dy.  AG K.D.S. Kotwal

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of M.S. Sonak and Nitin W. Sambre, JJ. observed that the two DMs of Goa had carved out exceptions in the order of the Court regarding non-entry in Goa without Covid negative certificate. The Bench stated, the magistrates are bound by Courts order and they cannot modify the same on their own.

On 06-05-2021, the Court had issued an interim Order to the State Administration to ensure that no persons are permitted entry into the State unless they possess a negativity certificate obtained within 72 hours from the time they seek entry into the State. It was made clear that until this interim order is modified a negativity certificate will be a must for entry into the State of Goa.

Despite the aforesaid, the District Magistrates had carved out an exception for persons entering in Goa for a medical emergency on production of proof or coming in an ambulance. Similarly another District Magistrates had issued orders covering several aspects, including inter alia the aspect of entry of persons into the State of Goa. Clause 2(c) of these orders reads as follows:

2. The following activities will be prohibited: (a) …….. (b) …….. (c) Inter-State movement for tourists from 10th May onwards (people who are residents of Goa or are entering Goa for work, or who have with them the full vaccination certificate or Covid negative test report for a test done a maximum of 72 hours prior to entering in Goa will be permitted). (d) ………

Noticing that despite its clear and unambiguous Order, the two District Magistrates either on their own or otherwise, had proceeded to carve out exceptions in favor of residents of Goa entering into the State; the Bench said,

The District Magistrates were bound by our Order and could not have by themselves or otherwise modified our order or refused to comply with our orders.

However, the Bench made an exception to its earlier order in respect of persons entering in Goa for medical emergency on production of proof or those who are coming in an ambulance. The Court directed the District Magistrates liberty to amend their impugned orders. On the submission of Advocate General that the impugned orders will be amended by evening, the Bench stated, “irrespective of whether such amends are made or not from the midnight intervening 11th and 12th May 2021, the State Administration shall ensure that no person who does not possess a Covid negativity certificate based on a test done a maximum 72 hours before seeking entry into Goa, will be permitted to enter into Goa.

The only exception shall be for persons entering in Goa for medical emergency on production of proof or those who are coming in an ambulance.

Consequently, the State Administration was directed to ensure the compliance.

[South Goa Advocates Assn. v. State of Goa,2021 SCC OnLine Bom 695 , decided on 11-05-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioners: Adv. Nikhil Pai

For the State of Goa: AG D.J. Pangam with Adv. Ankita Kamat,
For the Union of India: ASG P. Faldessai and SC R. Chodankar,

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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ., and S. Talapatra, J., activated a public interest petition which was initiated suo moto by the High Court last year when the so-called first wave of corona virus was swiping the whole country and also affecting the State of Tripura. For a while it appeared that the corona virus had subsided. However, by way of abundant caution, this public interest petition was kept alive, not realizing that unfortunately, the situation may arise where further hearing of this PIL would be necessary.

While fortunately the second wave of Covid 19 was somewhat delayed in Tripura compared to the other states of the country, the administration had a longer notice and therefore more time to prepare to meet with the challenges. The Court requested the administration to provide further data and make a few constructive suggestions such as the number of testing each day. The Court emphasized on the importance of wearing masks at all public places, to ramp up testing followed by isolation of those who might have recently been in contact with the corona positive patients and lastly, to vaccinate as quickly and as widespread a population as possible in order to control the overall spread of corona virus.

The Court as a precautionary measure requested the State administration to provide an affidavit on the next day of hearing i.e 17-05-2021 with the following mentioned data:

  • Whether there is any scientific model available with the State Government on the basis of which with reasonable accuracy the peak number of corona positive cases per day can be predicted.
  • If so, on the basis of this model it is possible to project the peak requirement of hospital beds with a break up of those required with oxygen and without oxygen.
  • The availability of total number of such beds with and without oxygen supply.
  • What could be the maximum oxygen demand in terms of units/quantity at the peak of the spread of virus and what is the availability of the oxygen with the State administration. The source of continuous supply of such oxygen will also be disclosed.
  • The availability of remdesivir dozes and other life saving drugs including steroids which may be required in emergency for extreme cases of corona infection. The availability of equipments for treating serious cases of corona virus shall also be stated.
  • Whether the hospitals in the State have any special arrangements for pediatric corona patients and whether any such specialized dedicated ward or arrangement is necessary or would be required in coming days.
  • In the affidavit, the deponent has provided the data about the persons already vaccinated for the first time and also second time. The affidavit also states that the State Government has decided to vaccinate the entire population above the age of 18 free of cost.

The Court stated that affidavit shall state the percentage of those who qualify for vaccination have already been vaccinated first time and second time as also when shall the persons above the age of 18 but below the age of 45 shall have excess to vaccination and rough timelines within which the State administration expects to cover substantial portion of the population which is eligible for such vaccination. The affidavit shall also state exact dozes of vaccination currently available with the State administration and further expected availability from time to time.

For Court on own motion: Mr Somik Deb, Amicus Curiae. For Respondent(s) : Mr S.S. Dey, Advocate General. Mr Debalay Bhattacharjee, GA. Ms Ayantika Chakraborty, Advocate.

[Court on its own motion v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 265, decided on 10-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: After the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union and the Teachers Union approached the High Court seeking a direction for setting up COVID care facilities in the University Campus, as also a COVID response team, and certain Oxygen facilities inside the University Campus premises, Prathiba M. Singh, J has asked the Registrar of JNU to file a status report, as to the steps taken by the administration of the JNU for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the JNU campus since 2020 and especially since 13th April, 2021.

Background

  • Around the second week of April, the Petitioners wrote a letter to the Registrar, highlighting the alarming situation due to COVID-19 on the JNU campus, seeking various steps to be taken for controlling the situation.
  • A notification was issued on 18th April, 2021, by the Deputy Registrar of the JNU constituting a COVID-10 task force and a COVID-19 response team in JNU.
  • On 18th April, 2021, another letter had again been sent by the Petitioners to the Registrar of JNU, stating the massive surge of the number of positive cases within the JNU campus premises and highlighting the need for urgent steps to be taken. The same was followed up with further letters on 19th April, 2021 to the Vice Chancellor, JNU, and on 23rd April, 2021 to the ADM, New Delhi, requesting immediate intervention for setting up COVID care facilities within the campus.
  • The Petitioners, thereafter, are stated to have contacted the SDM for, setting up of the isolation and quarantine facilities.
  • The petitioners had also requested the faculty of Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, for drawing of plans for COVID care, which has submitted a proper proposal in this respect. Further, there is also a plan which has been devised by the School of Life Sciences, JNU, for producing Oxygen within the campus itself.
  • As pleaded, there were total of 74 cases around 18th April 2021 which has increased to 211 as on 7th May 2021.

Contentions

The petitioners had highlighted before the Court that the right to life and health of all the residents/occupants in the campus is under severe jeopardy. The petitioners had accused the JNU administration of being guilty of `dereliction of duty’.

They had argued that despite repeated letters to the authorities of the University, the Secretary of Ministry of Education, the Secretary of the University Grants Commission etc., no action has been taken for setting up of a COVID care facility within the campus premises. Further, repeated letters to the SDM of the area have also not evoked any response.

Order

“Considering the rigour of the current COVID-19 pandemic wave and the correspondence which has been placed on record, there is no doubt that the JNU administration ought to have reacted with swiftness and alacrity.”

Noticing that it has been almost a month, since the petitioners have been following up but the same has completely failed to evoke a response, the Court said,

“If this is true, this would constitute gross neglect by the JNU administration in a situation which is completely alarming. The University is bound to take care of the health of the students and teachers, and make available the facilities, to the extent possible, within the University campus, especially considering the prevalent shortages for hospital beds etc.”

The Court also too judicial notice of the fact that various organisations and institutions have gone out of their way, during the current pandemic, to make various facilities available to their employees and other stakeholders, in order to safeguard their health during the current surge of the COVID- 19 pandemic. It, hence, said that JNU ought not to be an exception in this regard.

It, hence, issued the following directions:

  1. The Registrar, JNU to immediately give instructions to the ld. counsel, and file a status report, as to what are the steps taken by the administration of the JNU in respect of the requests made and letters written by the Petitioners to the administration, for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the JNU campus since 2020 and especially since 13th April, 2021.
  2. The Vice Chancellor/Registrar of JNU to also ascertain the necessity and feasibility in respect of creation of the COVID care facility in the JNU campus and file a status report thereof. The report shall also take into consideration the proposals given by the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH) as also the proposal for inhouse production of oxygen, given by the School of Life Sciences. The authorities in JNU to consider if there is any modification required to the said proposals as has been suggested by the students and teachers associations. The modalities for creation of COVID care facility shall be mentioned in the report.
  3. The SDM/ADM of the concerned area to also place on record a status report, as to whether such a COVID care facility can be created at JNU, in accordance with the guidelines applicable, and if so indicating the manner in which the doctors and paramedics, as also nurses, would be made available for the said facility, and whether they would be tied up with any particular hospital, and if so, name the said hospital after obtaining its concurrence.
  4. Two meetings to be virtually convened by the Registrar of the Respondent University, chaired by the Vice Chancellor, one with the other internal administrative staff as also the concerned SDM/ADM of the area and another along with six representatives of the Students and the Teachers Union, as also the departments which have given the proposals, to work out the formalities and the protocols, in this respect.
  5. The status reports explaining the feasibility, modalities and timelines for setting up of a covid care centre, preferably with oxygenated beds, as directed, be emailed by both the JNU administration as also the ADM/SDM of the concerned area, is to be filed by 9 AM on 13th May 2021.

The Court will now hear the matter on May 13, 2021.

[Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association v. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 2019, order dated 11.05.2021]


For Petitioners: Advocates Abhik Chimni, Lakshay Garg & Shashwat Mehra,

For Respondents: Standing Counsel Monika Arora, with Advocate Shriram Tiwary and Standing Counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi with Advocate Aditya P Khanna