Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Indrajit Mahanty and Vinit Kumar Mathur JJ. laid down important directions regarding COVID.

The present order entails important directions laid down by the Court which are as follows:

  1. State is directed to make available the position of beds on their website on a “Real Time Basis”.
  2. The projection of vacancies of the beds may be reflected immediately on the portal without sticking to the time schedule of three times a day.
  3. The State Government as well as Central Government are directed to ensure the adequate supply of oxygen and other medicines required to deal with the situation in the State of Rajasthan on war footing.
  4. The supply of oxygen and medicines should be ensured in the Government hospitals as well private hospitals without their being any distinctions.
  5. The competent authorities of the State Government are directed to supply the medicines in particular Remdesivir injection on receipt of the requisition urgently and not later than two hours.
  6. State Government is also directed to explore the possibility of operation of oxygen generation plants in the State, which are not in operation but the same are capable of producing oxygen, forthwith, including the one located at Mahatama Gandhi Hospital at Jodhpur.
  7. The State Government is also directed to consider taking the services of final year students as well as PG courses students of MBBS/Post Graduation for the doctors and likewise for the nursing staff for their deployment on the emergent basis if they are suitable in all respects to serve the general public at large
  8. State Government shall ensure compliance of this order and file affidavit to this effect before the next date including the details about the sourcing of oxygen and other medicines for the treatment of COVID.

In view of the above, matter is listed for 06-05-2021

[Surendra Jain v. State of Rajasthan, D.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 6814/2021, decided on 04-05-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

Counsel for the petitioner: Mr. Kshmendra Singh

Counsel for the respondent: Mr. Karan Singh Rajpurohit and Mr. Mukesh Rajpurohit

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, J., while noting the upsurge of COVID-19, stated that

Public health is of paramount importance and it is distressing that Constitutional authorities have to be reminded in such regard. It is only when the citizen survives that he enjoys the other rights that this democratic republic guarantees unto him. The situation is now one of survival and protection and, everything else comes thereafter.

Instant petition pertained to the counting of votes at a solitary assembly constituency, but the larger picture cannot be missed.

Petitioner apprehended that at assembly constituency, special measures have to be taken at the time of counting to maintain COVID protocol since 77 candidates are in the fray and even though an additional hall has been arranged by the Election Commission for the purpose of counting, that may not suffice to accommodate the counting personnel and the agents of 7 candidates.

COVID Protocol not adhered

It was noted that even though the polling was by and large peaceful in this State on 6-04-2021, the Election Commission could not ensure that political parties adhered to the Covid protocol at the time of election campaigns and rallies.

Election Commission and COVID Protocol

Despite repeated orders of this Court, going on like a broken record at the foot of almost every order on an election petition, that Covid protocol ought to be maintained during the campaign time, the significance of adhering to such protocol may have been lost on the Election Commission, going by the silence on the part of the Election Commission as campaigning and rallies were conducted without distancing norms being maintained and in wanton disregard of the other requirements of the protocol.

Court expressed that due to rapid surge in the number of cases on a daily basis, albeit this State not yet being as badly affected as some other States, the measures to be adopted at the time of the counting of votes on May 2, 2021, should already have been planned in the light of the grim situation now prevailing.

Bench remarked:

At no cost should the counting result in being a catalyst for a further surge, politics or no politics, and whether the counting takes place in a staggered manner or is deferred.

 Further, as far as the Karur constituency was concerned Election Commission submitted that two halls were arranged and on Court’s query whether such spaces would be adequate if the 77 candidates were to engage agents at the time of counting, Election Commission claimed that all but two of the independent candidates indicated that they would not engage any agents while counting and only 7 out of 9 major political parties were confirmed in writing that they would be appointing agents.

In view of the prevailing situation, Election Commission did not expect that COVID protocol and appropriate measures could not be taken if counting was conducted at two designated halls.

Adding to the above, the Commission stated that 6 additional counting tables were also organized so that the distancing norms could be maintained.

Bench stated that similar appropriate measures be adopted at other counting centres and only upon maintaining regular sanitization, proper hygienic conditions, mandatory wearing of mask and adherence to distance norms, should any counting begin or be continued.

Lastly, the Court directed that State Health Secretary and Director of Public Health should be consulted by Election Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer responsible in the State, to put appropriate measures in place immediately.

Petitioner said that since Karur is a sensitive constituency, additional security measures should be put in place. The Returning Officer, in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer in the State, will ensure that appropriate security measures are put in place and, if there is any apprehension of trouble or mischief, the State may be approached in this regard.

Matter to appear on 30-04-2021 to review the situation when a complete picture as to adequate steps having been taken at all counting centres should be indicated by the Election Commission. [M.R. Vijayabhaskar v. Chief Election Commissioner of India, WP No. 10441 of 2021, decided on 26-04-2021]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Refusing to interfere with the Delhi High Courts order staying Delhi Government’s decision to reserve 80% of ICU beds in private hospitals for COVID-19 patients, a vacation bench of Ashok Bhushan and B.R. Gavai, JJ has asked the Delhi High Court to hear the matter on 12.11.2020.

The order came after Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain submitted before the Court that there was an urgent requirement of hearing the matter since situation in Delhi regarding necessity of providing ICU beds to Covid-19 patients is increasing day by day.

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Association of Healthcare Providers submitted that the matter was already listed before the Single Bench on 18.11.2020 and that he had no objection if the matter is taken up on any early date by the Division Bench. The LPA before the division bench was earlier listed on 27.11.2020.

The Court directed that it will be open for the parties to submit such pleadings and submissions before the Division Bench as may be advised.

[Government of NCT of Delhi v. Association of Healthcare Providers, Special Leave to Appeal (C) Nos. 13530-13531/2020, order dated 10.11.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan*, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has asked the Central Government to consider and issue necessary directions in exercise of powers vested in it under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, regarding ban/Regulation on the usage of disinfection tunnels involving spraying or fumigation of chemical/organic disinfectants for the human beings. The Central Government has to issue such directions within a month.

The direction came in the case where the petitioner had sought ban on spraying of all kinds of disinfectants on human beings which is being done supposedly for protecting the human beings from the COVID-19. The petitioner highlighted that the Ultraviolet (UV Lamps) should not be used to disinfect the hands and other areas of the skin and that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has also not approved the use of any self-claimed organic or ayurvedic disinfectant for spraying or fumigation purposes nor approved any chemical disinfectants on human body but lot of organizations/public authorities are using chemical disinfectants for spraying and fumigation.

It was further submitted that

“there is no study anywhere in the world by any credible health agency which states that human disinfection tunnels are effective against Covid-19 virus.”

On the contrary, there are sufficient health advisories by the WHO, Union of India and other international agencies that tunnels are counter-productive and harmful for human health.

In this backdrop, the Court noticed that when the Government itself has issued advisory that use of disinfectant on human body is not recommended and it has been brought into its notice that despite the said advisory, large number of organizations, public authorities are using disinfectants on human body, it was necessary for it to issue necessary directions either to prevent such use or regulate such use as per requirement to protect the health of the people.

Though the Union and the States are taking all measures to contain the pandemic and all mitigating steps but,

“Some more actions were required to remove the cloud of uncertainty and to regulate the use even if it was to either prevent such use or regulate the use so that health of citizens is amply protected.”

On the submission by the Government that it is for the States/UTs to implement guidelines by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and role of the Central Government is limited to provide necessary guidelines and financial support, the Court said, that the provisions of the Act, 2005, confer certain more responsibilities and duties on the Central Government apart from issuance of guidelines and providing financial support. The COVID-19 Pandemic being a disaster within the meaning of Act, 2005, has to be dealt with sternly and effectively.

“In event, use of disinfectant on human body is to cause adverse effect on the health of the people, there has to be immediate remedial action and respondent No.1 cannot stop only by saying that such use is not recommended.”

[Gursimran Singh Narula v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 906, decided on 05.11.2020]


*Justice Ashok Bhushan has penned this judgment

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

Delhi Government in the interest of Public Health has extended the prohibition on manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of tobacco which is either flavoured, scented or mixed with any of the said additives, and whether going by the name or form of gutka, pan masala, flavoured/scented tobacco, kharra, or otherwise by whatsoever name called, whether packaged or unpackaged and/or sold as one product, or though packaged as separate products, sold or distributed in such a manner so as to easily facilitate mixing by the consumer.

“In exercise of these powers conferred by clause (a) of sub section (2) of section 30 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the undersigned, Commissioner (Food Safety), National Capital Territory of Delhi, prohibit in the interest of public health for a period of one year from the date of publication of this Notification in the official gazette, in the National Capital Territory of Delhi the manufacture, storage, distribution, or sale of tobacco which is either flavoured, scented or mixed with any of the said additives, and whether going by the name or form of gutka, pan masala, flavoured/scented tobacco, kharra, or otherwise by whatsoever name called, whether packaged or unpackaged and/or sold as one product, or though packaged as separate products, sold or distributed in such a manner so as to easily facilitate mixing by the consumer.”

NOTIFICATION


GNCTD, Department of Food & Safety

[Notification dt. 15-07-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Allowing Odisha Government to conduct Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, the Court has said,

if it is possible to ensure that there is no public attendance, we see no reason why the Rath Yatra cannot be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple.”

Taking note of the fact that in the 18th-19th century a yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague “like wild fire”, the Court said that the authorities concerned should remain aware that the situation can become dangerous if the rules of caution are ignored.

Refusing to micro-manage the rituals, the Court left it to the wisdom of State, the Centre and temple management to conduct Puri’s Rath Yatra, scheduled to start from June 23, in a restricted manner in the wake of COVID-19.

The order of the Court came after Centre sought modification in Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra order dated 18.06.2020 wherein the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and Dinesh Maheshwari and AS Bopanna, JJ had directed that there shall be no Rath Yatra anywhere in the temple town of Odisha or in any other part of the State this year.

In the affidavit submitted before the Court, the Odisha Government said its apprehension is primarily related to thousands of Rath Yatras taking place all over the state but it can only be limited to Puri alone without public attendance as proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, Chairman of the Puri Jagannath Temple administration. The government said it will make the necessary arrangements to conduct it accordingly.

The Court, hence, issued the following directions:

  • All entry points into the City of Puri, i.e., airports, railway stations, bus stands, etc., shall be closed during the period of Rath Yatra festival.
  • State Government shall impose a curfew in the City of Puri on all the days and during all the time when Rath Yatra chariots are taken in procession. To start with, the curfew shall begin tonight at 8 P.M.
  • Each Rath, i.e., Chariot, shall be pulled by not more than 500 persons. Each of those 500 persons shall be tested for the Coronavirus. They shall be permitted to pull the chariot only if they have been found negative. The number 500 shall include officials and police personnel.
  • There shall be an interval of one hour between two chariots.
  • Each of those who is engaged in pulling the chariot shall maintain social distancing before, during and after the Rath Yatra.
  • Only such persons shall be associated with the rituals who have been found to have tested negative and shall maintain social distancing.
  • The primary responsibility for conducting the Rath Yatra in accordance with the conditions and other norms shall be that of the Committee in-charge of Puri Jagannath Temple Administration. Each member of the Committee shall be responsible for due compliance with the conditions imposed by this Court and the general directions which govern ensuring of public health issued by the Union Government. In addition, the officers designated by the State Government for conduct of the Rath Yatra shall be responsible likewise.
  • The rituals and the Rath Yatra shall be freely covered by the visual media. The State Government shall allow TV cameras to be installed at such places as may be found necessary by the TV crew.
  • The bare minimum number of people shall be allowed by the Committee to participate in the rituals and in the Rath Yatra.
  • State Government may take such help as may be found necessary from the Union Government.
  • State Government shall maintain a record containing details of all those who have been allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra or the rituals connected therewith along with details of their medical conditions after testing.

While passing the aforementioned directions, Court said,

“…State of Orissa has a good record of having controlled the pandemic with a very little loss of life. We see no reason why the same attitude of care and caution should not be applied to the Rath Yatra.”

[Odisha Vikash Parishad v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 533 , order dated 22.06.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and Dinesh Maheshwari and AS Bopanna, JJ has directed that there shall be no Rath Yatra anywhere in the temple town of Odisha or in any other part of the State this year. The Court also directed that there shall be no activities secular or religious associated with the Rath Yatra during this period.

“Having regard to the danger presented by such a large gathering of people for the Rath Yatra, we consider it appropriate in the interests of public health and safety of citizens who are devotees to restrain the respondents from holding the Rath Yatra this year.”

The order of the Court came after noticing that the number of people that are likely to gather for the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra scheduled to be held from 23rd June, 2020, is going to be about 10 to 12 lakh and that the festivities normally continue for a period of 10 to 12 days.

The Court said,

“Article 251 of the Constitution of India itself confers the right to freely profess and propagate religion subject to health.”

[Odisha Vikash Parishad v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 519 , order dated 18.06.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai, JJ has held that by invoking the doctrine of promissory estoppel, the Union of India cannot be estopped from withdrawing the exemption from payment of Excise Duty in respect of certain products, which exemption is granted by an earlier notification; when the  Union of India finds that such a withdrawal is necessary in the public interest. The bench said that the larger public interest would outweigh an individual loss, if any.

In the present case the withdrawal of the exemption to the pan masala with tobacco and pan masala sans tobacco in the State of Assam was under challenge before the Court. The Court, however, said that it had no hesitation to hold that the withdrawal of the exemption to the pan masala with tobacco and pan masala sans tobacco is in the larger public interest. As such, the doctrine of promissory estoppel could not have been invoked in the present matter.

Noticing that by a scientific research conducted by Experts in the field, it has been found that the consumption of pan masala with tobacco as well as pan masala sans tobacco is hazardous to health and that the percentage of teenagers consuming the hazardous product was very high and as such exposing a large chunk of young population of this Country to the risk of oral cancer, the Court said,

“if the State has decided to withdraw the exemption granted for manufacture of such products, we fail to understand as to how it can be said to be not in the public interest.”

The Sikkim High Court had observed that the appellant herein has been unable to establish any overriding public interest, which would make the doctrine of promissory estoppel inapplicable. It has further observed that, the pan masala has not been declared as hazardous to health by any notification or order of the Government of India or the State Government. It found that, no material or scientific report had been placed on record to demonstrate that the pan masala is a health hazard. The Supreme Court, however, held that the reasoning arrived at by the Sikkim High Court was totally erroneous.

The Court said that the legislative policy as reflected in Section 154 of the Finance Act was to withdraw the exemption granted to the manufacturers of cigarettes as well as pan masala with tobacco and that too with retrospective effect. Apart from the fact that, it is a common knowledge that tobacco is highly hazardous, the legislative intent was also unambiguous. It, hence, said,

“In these circumstances, the finding of the High Court that the withdrawal of exemption for tobacco products was not in the public interest, to say the least is shocking.”

[Union of India v. Unicorn Industries, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1231, decided on 19.09.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the reasons for the order dated 29.03.2017, where it was directed that on and from 1st April, 2017 such vehicles that are not BS-IV compliant shall not be sold or registered in India by any manufacturer or dealer, the Court said that considering the life of such vehicles ranges from 10 to 15 years, the concern is not only for the present population of the country but for future generations who also have an entitlement to breathe pollution free air. This is what sustainable development and inter-generational equity is all about.

Rejecting the argument that every Notification issued by the Government in relation to prohibition of sale of any vehicle not complying with BS-IV Emission norms over the course of years should be interpreted literally, the Court said that if the entire scheme laid out by the Government – of discouraging the manufacture of polluting vehicles and gradually phasing them out coupled with their gradual replacement with fuel efficient vehicles, availability of cleaner and greener fuel and compliance with fuel emission norms is appreciated in a much larger context rather than on a notification by notification basis – the objective behind the scheme would be apparent. The Court said that the Government could very well have issued one single notification way back in 2010 that with effect from 1st April, 2017 but it did not do so to enable all concerned, particularly the auto industry and marketing strategists to gradually manage their affairs rather than subject them to a sudden future shock. The scheme of a gradual phase-out is now sought to be perverted through a literal interpretation of each notification, unfortunately, for a commercial benefit rather than being appreciated in a larger canvas for the benefit of society as a whole.

Lashing out at the interveners, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ said that rather than admit responsibility for a lack of concern of public health issues, some of the interveners have sought to blame Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) for its failure to approach the Government of India to seek amendments to the notifications issued from time to time and to incorporate a prohibition on the sale and registration of BS-III compliant vehicles on or after 1st April, 2017. It was noticed that the EPCA had convened a meeting of all stakeholders on 19th October, 2016 and had brought to the notice of the representatives of SIAM that there would be no sale and registration of BS-III compliant vehicles from 1st April, 2017 and that this should be communicated to all manufacturers in order to give sufficient notice of almost six months to enable the automobile industry to plan its production and sale and take pro-active steps to significantly decrease the production of such vehicles. Therefore, to blame EPCA for their problems is rather unfair of the interveners.

The Court said that it is time to realize that a collective effort is needed to clear up the air. In this process, the interveners have a huge role and they should now wake up to their responsibility for the benefit of all. [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 394, decided on 13.04.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Stating that the sale and registration and therefore the commercial interests of manufacturers and dealers of such vehicles that do not meet the Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) emission standards as on 1st April, 2017 does not take primacy over the health hazard due to increased air pollution of millions of our country men and women, the Court directed that  on and from 1st April, 2017 such vehicles that are not BS-IV compliant shall not be sold or registered in India by any manufacturer or dealer, that is to say that such vehicles whether two wheeler, three wheeler, four wheeler or commercial vehicles will not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer on and from 1st April, 2017.

With regard to the sale and registration of the existing stock of such vehicles that comply with BS-III emission standards, the manufacturers contended that they are entitled to manufacture such vehicles till 31st March, 2017 and in so doing, they have not violated any prohibition or any law. Hence, the sale and registration of such vehicles on and from 1st April, 2017 ought not to be prohibited and that they may be given reasonable time to dispose of the existing stock of such vehicles. On the other hand, the learned Amicus contended that permitting such vehicles to be sold or registered on or after 1st April, 2017 would constitute a health hazard to millions of our country men and women by adding to the air pollution levels in the country, which are already quite alarming.

Accepting the contention of the Amicus, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ said that the number of such vehicles may be small compared to the overall number of vehicles in the country but the health of the people is far, far more important than the commercial interests of the manufacturers or the loss that they are likely to suffer in respect of the so-called small number of such vehicles. The Court also said that the manufacturers of such vehicles were fully aware that eventually from 1st April, 2017 they would be required to manufacture only BS-IV compliant vehicles but for reasons that are not clear, they chose to sit back and declined to take sufficient pro-active steps. [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 291, order dated 29.03.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition dealing with the welfare of the mentally ill persons, the Court said that the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 postulates a dispensation mandating the appropriate Government to establish institutions for the care of mentally challenged persons and maintenance and management thereof with a view to create an equal opportunity and social security to them.

In the present case, inadequate medical treatment, medical services and access to Doctors, skewed ratio of staff to look after the inmates, overcrowding, poor distribution and consumption of dietary, clothing, bedding and other items and also about the abuses of various kinds to the mentally challenged persons residing in the mental asylums and nursing homes, was highlighted.

The Court said that the Central/State Coordination Committee is primarily responsible for ensuring compliance of the mandate regarding the infrastructure and other facilities to be provided in the Homes established under the 1995 Act and also for overseeing that the same are properly maintained from time to time and comply with the policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of persons with disabilities. The provisions of the 1995 Act provide for checks and balances for which hierarchy of Authorities have been created to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with opportunity of full participation and equality in the region. The bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and A.M. Khanwilkar, J said that the six months’ time frame given to the Central Coordination Committee and the concerned State Coordination Committee is sufficient to enable them to take necessary remedial measures and ensure that deficiencies in the respective institutions established under the 1995 Act are cured within such period.

The Court added that the Secretary of the Union of India, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare shall be personally responsible for monitoring and overseeing the progress and action taken by the Central Coordination Committee in respect of establishments registered under the 1995 Act and under the control of the Central Government. The Court said that similar procedure is to be followed in case of hospitals and nursing homes established under the Mental Health Act, 1987.

The Court asked the Chairperson of the State Coordination Committee to submit compliance report not later than eight months in the Registry of this Court after providing advance copy thereof to the Central Coordination Committee. The Central Coordination Committee shall then submit State/Union Territory wise report with the comments, if any, within ten months in the Registry of this Court. [Reena Banerjee v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1437, decided on 08.12.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter relating to problems faced by the people of Delhi due to dengue and chikungunya, the Lt. Governor, after convening a meeting on 05.10.2016, will convene another meeting today at 5:30 and the following points will be discussed by the partcipants:

  • 15 areas of concern that learned amicus says he has culled out from the affidavits that have been filed and are on record.
  • If there are any additional areas of concern, the participants in the meeting will identify those areas and suggest ways and means to remove the problems including any problems that may arise in the 15 areas identified by learned amicus.
  • Steps to be taken for preventing recurrence of the problems faced by the people of Delhi this year due to vector-borne diseases as also preventive steps for any contingency that may arise in the near future.
  • Effective ways to have the garbage cleared so that standards of sanitation and hygiene are maintained in and around Delhi

Stating that the efforts by the participants should be consultative, collaborative and cooperative, the bench said that they should keep the interests of the people of Delhi in mind and look out at the entire exercise in a positive manner and think about the future rather than the past. The Court asked the participants to arrive at a time-frame within which all necessary steps will be taken and who will be responsible for their implementation.

The Chief Minister of Delhi, the Health Minister, Commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Commissioner of East Delhi Municipal Corporation, Commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, Chairman of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, General Manager of the Northern Railway, Chief Secretary of Delhi, Union Health Secretary, the Vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and the Chief Executive Officer – Delhi Cantonment Board will be participating in the meeting. [In Re Outrage as Parents End Life after Child’s Dengue Death, SMW (C) No. 1/2015, decided on 06.10.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: While considering a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking a mandamus directing All Municipal Corporations to set up safe and clean public toilet facilities for ‘women walking on the streets’, A.S. Oka and Revati Mohite Dere, JJ., held that the health of the people in the city is inextricably linked to its toilets and it is imperative to provide them in sufficient number and that no human being can live with dignity unless there are facilities to maintain basic hygiene and the right conferred by Article 21 cannot be meaningful if facilities of clean toilets and hygienic toilets are not provided to a woman walking on streets.

Niramay Public Charitable Trust, Milun Suryajani (a media organisation), and Smt. Vidya Bal, social activist had raised the issue of lack of toilet facilities for women through a public interest litigation. They said that there are approximately 17 lakh women residing in the Pune Municipal Corporation area and for 17 Lakh women, there are only 180 urinals. They also submitted before the Court that there was no bonafide effort on the part of the Pune Municipal Corporation to discharge their public duties, imposed on them by the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act. The Court observed that various provisions of the Constitution including Articles 47 and 48-A impose an inevitable duty on the state to ensure the welfare of its citizens which includes right to clean toilets.

The Court also added that Public health is of paramount importance and that it is the duty of the State and the Corporations to ensure that public latrines, urinals and similar conveniences are constructed, maintained and kept in a hygienic condition. In furtherance of these observations, the Court issued various guidelines to the Municipal Corporations for construction of toilets/ urinals/ restrooms/ privies for women walking on the streets by forming a ‘committee’ within 4 weeks. It also directed the corporations to file their first compliance before 8th of March, 2016 setting out details of the scheme formulated by them and steps taken pursuant to the same. [Milun Suryajani v. Pune Municipal Commissioner, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 6256 ,Decided on 23.12.2015]