Gujarat High Court: The Division Bench of Vikram Seth, CJ and Bhargav D. Karia, J., framed certain points for consideration of the State and directed it to submit an affidavit, while further hearing a matter initiated suo motu by the High Court taking note of the COVID-19 situation in the State.

After the Court suggestions made on 12-04-2021, Core Committee headed by Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister notified the immediate decisions.

Bench flagged the following issues for consideration of the State and for an appropriate response for being incorporated in its next affidavit.

  • It was brought to the Court’s notice that RTPCR testing laboratories are not available in all the districts of the State, what to say of the towns/talukas and tribal areas. The State to ensure setting up of such laboratories in all the districts where it is not available, also in the towns/talukas and tribal areas of the State as early as possible. For this, the State may explore public private partnership mode or any other mode which may encourage setting up of such laboratories throughout the State.
  • Existing capacity for RTPCR testing be increased across the State in order to reduce time for collection of sample and getting the report ready after analyzing the sample. The delay in getting an RTPCR sample being collected and the further delay being caused in getting the report, may be forthwith reduced.
  • Accurate reporting of RTPCR testing with correct figures of positive results be made public. The State should not feel shy of publishing the correct data of RTPCR testing results, if such figures are not being correctly reported.
  • Remdisivir injection which at present is being looked at as a life saving drug for Covid­19 virus infected patients, when apparently it is not so, should be explained and communicated to the public at large by the experts of the subject in the State through print, digital and electronic media. Otherwise so long as the myth continues, Remdesivir injection will always be in a deficit and being misused by black­marketeers and hoarders.
  • On­line portal giving details of the availability of vacant beds and occupied beds under different categories for Covid patients for all districts be controlled by the State. Instead of data being uploaded twice a day, the availability of beds should be displayed on a real time basis on the portal
  • As assured by Trivedi, Advocate General, the availability of oxygen would be sufficient to cater to the demands within three to four days in view of the efforts to procure the same by the State. The status of availability of oxygen vis-a-­vis demand be reported to the Court.
  • State should publish data by making efforts to find out actual number of Covid positive cases so as to remove general conception from the minds of the people that data given by the State is not accurate.
  • State must come up publicly in a transparent and fair manner with complete details with regard to availability and modalities of the required amenities, medication and related infrastructure for the treatment of the Covid patients, who require either facility of Covid care center, hospitalization with oxygen, ventilator, medicines, etc.
  • Any material or facility or infrastructure, if lacking in required numbers should be accepted by the State publicly and remedial steps should be taken immediately to improve the situation.
  • It is only when the State declares that it has requisite essential infrastructure, medication and treatment facilities available with supporting infrastructure, then only the rush for acquiring medicines, hoarding of medicines, buying medicines at higher price, exploitation by the unscrupulous sector would be stopped.
  • To achieve the above, State needs to have honest and transparent dialogue with the public which should be communicated to one and all through print, electronic and social media.
  • Honest and transparent dialogue by the State would generate trust amongst general public so as to know the grave situation prevailing at the current times which may persuade the public at large to strictly abide by the standard protocol of wearing mask, keeping social distance, sanitization by frequent hand washing, etc, as prescribed and known to all.

Court added that in the present situation State is not expected to provide all the essential infrastructure, medication and treatment facilities at once, but if the people are taken into confidence with regard to the efforts being made by the State to take care of the people suffering from the pandemic, the people at large would definitely cooperate and appreciate the efforts being made by the State.

While concluding, it was requested by the High Court that parties seeking intervention are requested to sit together, deliberate and address the Court through one voice.

Matter to be listed on 20-04-2021.

State to come up not only to the expectations of the Court but the public of the State at large.

[Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, R/WP (PIL) No. 53 of 2021, decided on 15-04-2021]

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