Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of R.K. Deshpande and Amit B. Borkar, JJ., while addressing a petition, held that,

“…neither the Central Government nor the State Government can keep the fate of the frontline workers hanging and compel them to perform their jobs and discharge the duties without fear or assurance of safety and protection of their own life and the lives of the family members.”

“All asymptomatic frontline workers working in hospitals & containment zones in Vidarbha region entitled to be tested for COVID-19 on RT-PCR  method.”

COVID-19 has spread its tentacles all over the world, which is fighting a war against it. The population of the infected persons is on steep rise and the three major challenges are as follows:

  • to prevent the spread-over of the disease Coronavirus
  • to detect the persons infected with the disease and its source, i.e. contact tracing, and
  • to treat the patients of the disease Coronavirus.

The present petition had been filed seeking to direct ICMR to frame appropriate appropriate guidelines for conducting the Rapid Antibody Test and RT-PCR Test of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, pharmacists, police personnel, etc. (frontline workers) attending the COVID-19 facilities and accordingly to take such tests to safeguard their lives, which is the guarantee under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Another relief is to release all the COVID-19 suspects admitted in the Isolation Wards / Quarantine Wards having tested negative in RT-PCR Test with immediate effect.

The other reliefs claimed include the fixation of price of the Rapid Antibody Test Kit for COVID-19 and to supply it to all the private and government hospitals and nursing homes with a direction to take the first step of screening of non-COVID patients before admitting in the hospital.

Petition also sought the directions in respect of home quarantine and reservation of 50% of beds for COVID-19 patients in all the registered private hospitals and nursing homes.

Rapid Antibody Test of the frontline workers

It is the contention of the petitioner that the test should be undertaken in respect of every person in the containment zones.

Bench in regard to the above aspect stated that,

What we find is that even if the Rapid Antibody Test shows positive result, it is not the conclusive test to hold that the patient is infected with the disease. Similarly, if the test shows negative result, still it cannot be said that the person is not infected with the disease.

According to the respondents, the only conclusive test to determine as to whether a person is infected with the disease is the RT-PCR Test.

Thus in view of the above, Court did not find any point in directing the authorities on the point of Rapid Antibody Test of the frontline workers.

To release all COVID-19 suspects admitted in the Isolation Wards/Quarantine Wards having tested negative in the RT-PCR Test

Commissioner, Nagpur Municipal Corporation made a statement, wherein the following was stated:

“For hospital isolation patient can be discharged after 10 days of symptom onset and no fever for 3 days. There will be no need for testing prior to discharge.”

Thus, in view of the above statement Court did not give any further directions in the above-regard.

Home Quarantine and to prevent contamination of COVID-19 and Reservation of 50% beds in private hospitals

For the above relief sought by petitioner, Court stated that it is a policy decision which is to be guided by instructions issued by ICMR, Centre and State Government.

Further, the ICMR guidelines already include testing of health-care workers and it is critical to understand that there is globally a very limited availability of testing reagents/kits.

Thus, the contention of the petitioner that the RT-PCR Tests should be conducted on frontline workers, also cannot be accepted by the Court.

Further the High Court stated that,

COVID-19 disease of Coronavirus is symptomatic as well as asymptomatic. It may be that an asymptomatic patient carries the disease.

Hence, there cannot be any distinction between all symptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases, including those of health-care workers and of asymptomatic direct and high risk contacts of health-care workers with the laboratory confirmed cases.

Thus, all frontline workers coming in contact of laboratory confirmed cases are entitled to be tested on RT-PCR method.

Commissioner, Nagpur Municipal Corporation, is the “Empowered Officer” under the provisions of Epidemic Diseases Act by the State Government and accordingly the notifications are issued from time to time by him to secure the object and purpose of the enactment.

Bench also observed that, by invoking the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act, the State and Central Government have taken upon themselves an obligation and the responsibility under Article 47, as a part of guarantee under Article 21 of the Constitution of India to save and protect the lives of the people of this nation, more particularly the frontline workers, from COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic Outbreak.

Life of frontline workers is more precious as they are warriors and saviours, compromising their own life at the stake to save the lives of others.

As observed by the Single Judge Bench of the Court, the Division Bench of this Court also endorses and confirms that the State owes its duty to the frontline warriors to take additional steps or measures, even if the guidelines do not envisage such testing.

High Court also stated that “State is be duty bound to take additional measures and ensure the minimization of the risk to the medical, police personnel and all frontline workers, to protect the fundamental right to life under Article 21 read with the duty under Article 47 of the Constitution of India.”

Therefore, to summarise the order, following has been passed by the bench:

  • all asymptomatic frontline workers working in the hospitals and the containment zones in the entire Vidarbha region, shall be entitled to be tested for COVID-19 disease or Coronavirus on RT-PCR method on expressing their willingness, if they are found to be in direct and high risk contact of laboratory confirmed cases.
  • ICMR directed to frame policy and prescribe protocol for periodical testing of frontline workers

In the above view, petition was disposed of.

[Citizen Forum For Equality v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 695 , decided on 01-06-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Shopping malls get frequented by large number of people for shopping, entertainment and food. To prevent spread of COVID-19 infection, it is important that required social distancing and other preventive measures are followed.

Shopping malls in containment zones shall remain closed. Only those outside containment zones will be allowed to open up.

All shopping malls shall ensure the following arrangements:

i. Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions.

ii. Only asymptomatic customers/visitors shall be allowed.

iii. All workers/customers/visitors to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks. The face cover/masks has to be worn at all times inside the shopping mall.

iv. Posters/standees/AV media on preventive measures about COVID-19 to be displayed prominently.

v. Staggering of visitors to be done, if possible.

vi. Adequate manpower shall be deployed by Mall Management for ensuring social distancing norms.

vii. All employees who are at higher risk i.e. older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions, to take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public. Shopping Mall management to facilitate work from home wherever feasible.

viii. Proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises – duly following social distancing norms shall be ensured.

ix. Valet parking, if available, shall be operational with operating staff wearing face covers/ masks and gloves as appropriate. A proper disinfection of steering, door handles, keys, etc. of the vehicles should be taken up.

x. Any shops, stalls, cafeteria etc., outside and within the premises shall follow social distancing norms at all times.

xi. Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.

xii. Preferably separate entry and exits for visitors, workers and goods/supplies shall be organized.

xiii. The staff for home deliveries shall be screened thermally by the shopping mall authorities prior to allowing home deliveries.

xiv. Required precautions while handling supplies, inventories and goods in the shopping mall shall be ensured. Proper queue management and disinfection shall be organized.

xv. Maintaining physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, when queuing up for entry and inside the shopping mall as far as feasible.

xvi. Number of customers inside the shop to be kept at a minimum, so as to maintain the physical distancing norms.

xvii. Seating arrangement, if any, to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained. xviii. Number of people in the elevators shall be restricted, duly maintaining social distancing norms.

xix. Use of escalators with one person on alternate steps may be encouraged.

xx. For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which inter alia emphasises that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30oC, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.

xxi. Large gatherings/congregations continue to remain prohibited.

xxii. Effective and frequent sanitation within the premises shall be maintained with particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations/areas.

xxiii. Cleaning and regular disinfection (using 1% sodium hypochlorite) of frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, benches, washroom fixtures, etc.) to be made mandatory in all malls in common areas as well as inside shops, elevators, escalators etc.

xxiv. Proper disposal of face covers / masks / gloves left over by visitors and/or employees should be ensured.

xxv. Deep cleaning of all washrooms shall be ensured at regular intervals.

xxvi. In the food-courts:

a. Adequate crowd and queue management to be ensured to ensure social distancing norms.

b. In food courts and restaurants, not more than 50% of seating capacity to be permitted.

c. Food court staff / waiters should wear mask and hand gloves and take other required precautionary measures.

d. The seating arrangement should ensure adequate social distancing between patrons as far as feasible.

e. Contactless mode of ordering and digital mode of payment (using e-wallets) to be encouraged.

f. Tables to be sanitized each time customer leaves.

g. In the kitchen, the staff should follow social distancing norms at work place.

xxvii. Gaming Arcades shall remain closed.

xxviii. Children Play Areas shall remain closed.

xxix. Cinema halls inside shopping malls shall remain closed.

xxx. In case of a suspect or confirmed case in the premises:

a. Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others.

b. Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.

c. Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline.

d. A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection.

e. Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if the person is found positive.

Read the detailed notification here.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

SOP dt. 04-06-2020][

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Guidelines for domestic travel (air/train/inter-state bus travel)

1) Dos and Don’ts shall be provided along with tickets to the travellers by the agencies concerned.

2) All passengers shall be advised to download Arogya Setu app on their mobile devices.

3) Suitable announcement about COVID-19 including precautionary measures to be followed shall be made at airports/railway station/bus terminals and in flights/trains/bus.

4) The States/UTs shall ensure that all passengers shall undergo thermal screening at the point of departure and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board the flight/train/bus.

5) During boarding and travel, all passengers shall use face covers/mask. They will also follow hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and maintain environmental hygiene.

6) At airports/railway stations/ bus terminals required measures to ensure social distancing shall be taken.

7) Airports/railway stations/bus terminals should be regularly sanitized/disinfected and availability of soaps and sanitizers shall be ensured.

8) Thermal screening at exit point shall be arranged.

9) Asymptomatic passengers will be permitted to go with the advice that they shall self-monitor their health for 14 days. In case, they develop any symptoms, they shall inform the district surveillance officer or the state/national call center (1075).

10) Those found symptomatic will be isolated and taken to the nearest health facility. They will be assessed for clinical severity at the health facility.

11) Those having moderate or severe symptoms will be admitted to dedicated COVID Health facilities and managed accordingly.

12) Those having mild symptoms will be given the option of home isolation or isolated in the Covid Care Centre (both public & private facilities) as appropriate and tested as per ICMR protocol available at

If positive, they will continue in COVID Care Centre and will be managed as per clinical protocol.

If negative, the passenger may be allowed to go home, isolate himself/herself and self monitor his/her health for further 7 days. In case, any symptoms develop they shall inform the district surveillance officer or the state/national call center (1075).

NOTE: States can also develop their own protocol with regards to quarantine and isolation as per their assessment.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

[Press Release dt. 24-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Resolutions undertaken by the Committees constituted for suggesting preventive and remedial measures for combating the impending threat of Corona Virus (COVID-19) was approved by the Chief Justice vide His Lordship’s order dated 16.03.2020.

With prior approval of the Chief Justice the aforesaid order dated 16.03.2020, stands modified in following terms:

1. No manual gate pass for entry in High Court premises shall be issued, until further orders.

2. Only the Advocates whose cases are to be taken up, alone may appear to avoid crowding in the High Court premises, until further orders.

3. Till further orders, only e-gate passes will be issued to Advocates, therefore, those Advocates alone, whose cases are to be taken up, may apply online for the e-gate pass.

4. No e-gate pass / manual gate pass will be issued to the litigants and visitors, until further orders.

5. That employees and Advocates shall be granted entry in the High Court premises only after thermal scanning.

6. That the Advocates will advise their clients not to visit the High Court unless their presence is directed by the Court.

7. That Courts shall not insist for personal presence of parties unless it is unavoidable. Further, the personal presence, which has already been fixed, are deferred.

8. That all the mediation proceedings shall remain suspended. The proceedings, in which the date is fixed, shall be given next date. 9. That the Advocates’ Canteen as well as Bar Association meeting halls shall remain closed till further orders. However, their cleaning and sanitization shall be ensured on daily basis.

10. That no vendor shall be permitted to bring any beverages and food items inside the Court premises till further orders.

11. That the Chief Medical Officer be requested to ensure that Doctors / Medical Personnels in adequate number are deployed on each entry point along with Thermal Imaging Devices to ensure that no person (Employee / Advocate etc.) having fever / symptoms of Corona Virus enters in the High Court. If any such person is found, he/she be denied entry in the High Court and follow up action for his treatment to be taken.

12. That the Hon’ble Judges, employees and Advocates will ensure leaving the High Court premises by 04:00 p.m.

13. That all Members of the Registry and each and every employee of all Cadres (Class I, II, III & IV) working in High Court, Allahabad and Lucknow Bench will intimate immediately : (i) If he/she feels that symptoms of Corona Virus are present in him / her. (ii) If symptoms of Corona Virus manifests / appears in any of his / her family member(s). (iii) If any guest / visitor visits his / her residence from any of the country affected by Corona Virus. (iv) If he /she has visited any country affected by Corona Virus in last 15 days. Such employees will be required to furnish information on the above mentioned point(s) immediately, failure of which would entail Disciplinary Proceedings against the concerned.

14. That steps be taken for ensuring that the Driver Jamadar & Shadow/Gunner attached with the Hon’ble Judge are scanned on daily basis for the Corona Virus.

15. That only three gates be earmarked for entry in the High Court premises at Allahabad.

16. That the Hon’ble Judges be requested to carry their personal belongings (Spectacles, Mobile Phones, etc.) themselves and not to hand over the same to their personal staff.

17. That the museum of the High Court shall remain closed until further orders.

18.Necessary directions earlier issued with regard to combating impending threat of Corona Virus (COVID-19) shall also be applicable. Immediate steps be taken to execute the resolution aforesaid.

Allahabad High Court

[Notice dt. 10-04-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

India’s response to COVID-19 has been pre-emptive, pro-active and graded. India had already put in place a comprehensive response system at its borders much before WHO declared it as a public health emergency of international concern (30th January).

Screening of incoming air passengers followed by suspension of visas and and ban on international flights was done much ahead of any other country.

Thermal screening of incoming international passengers from China and Hong Kong was started on 18th January, much before the first case of Coronavirus was detected in India on 30th January, 2020,.

A look at the global scenario would highlight that Italy and Spain, which are devastated by COVID-19, had started screening of travellers 25 days and 39 days respectively after first reported case.

Central Government took a number of proactive measures, such as travel restrictions, adding more countries and airports for screening, suspension of visas and self quarantine measures to effectively contain, prevent and manage the spread of the disease. A chronology of the decisions taken so far is as follows:

  • 17th jan- Advisory issued to avoid travel to china
  • 18th Jan – thermal screening of passengers from China and Hong Kong
  • 30th Jan – strong advisory issued to avoid travel to China.
  •  3rd Feb – E- visa facility suspended for Chinese citizens.
  • 22nd Feb -Advisory issued to avoid travel to Singapore; Universal screening for flights from Kathmandu, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
  • 26th Feb – Advisory issued to avoid travel to Iran, Italy and Republic of Korea. Passengers coming from these countries to be screened , and may be quarantined based on screening and risk assessment.
  • 3rd March: Suspension of all visas for Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and China; Compulsory health screening for passengers arriving directly or indirectly from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan.
  • 4th March: Universal screening of all International Flights. Quarantine or isolation at home or sent to hospital based on screening and risk profile
  • 5th March: Passengers from Italy or Republic of Korea need to get medical certificate before entry
  • 10th March, Home isolation: incoming international passengers should self-monitor health and follow govt. Dos and Don’ts: passengers with travel history to China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany to undergo home quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival
  • 11th March: Compulsory Quarantine- Incoming travellers (including Indians) arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15th February, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.
  • 16, 17, 19 March– Comprehensive advisory:

16 March

Expanded compulsory quarantine for travellers from or through UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait for a minimum of 14 days.

Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India totally prohibited

17 March

Travel of passengers from Afghanistan, Philippines, Malaysia  prohibited

19 March

All Incoming international flights suspended, with effect from 22nd March

  • 25th March: extension of suspension of all incoming International Flights to India extended till 14th April 2020

With evolving global spread of disease, not only travel advisories were revised, but airport screening was also expanded to all airports.

After being screened by health authorities at the airports, passengers were quarantined or sent to hospitals, based on risk assessment by health authorities. Details of even those who were cleared by health authorities were shared with the state government authorities so that they can be kept under the surveillance of their respective state/UT governments for the required number of days.

Screening of passengers took place at 30 airports, 12 major and 65 minor pots and at land borders. Over 36 lakh passengers have been screened.

The statement that ‘prosperous Indians’ were allowed to return without screening, is preposterous. The government took swift action to put in a place a comprehensive and robust system of screening, quarantine and surveillance are part of its robust response to the public health crisis right from the beginning. This covered every traveller, Indians returning after business, or tourism, students as well as foreigners.

State governments have been regularly requested to maintain and further improve upon this surveillance so that the coverage is complete and there are no gaps. A meticulous system has enabled states to track down individuals who tried to avoid surveillance or who did not follow quarantine

As many as 20 Video Conferences by Union Health Secretary with State Governments and 6 by the Cabinet Secretary with the State Chief Secretaries have been held to review the and step up the preparedness to deal with the Corona issue. Integrated disease surveillance system, which includes monitoring of international travellers, is one of the many issues discussed in these Video Conferences.

Ministry of Information & Broadcasting

Press Release dt. 28-03-2020

[Source: PIB]