States have to rise above politics & take strict measures to contain COVID-19 surge, says SC

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Updated: Nov 27, 2020 6:47 PM

Terming the fire incident at Rajkot as shocking, the apex court said this is a very serious thing and it reflects the situation of designated government hospitals as similar instances have taken place in other places also.

The top court said "this is high time to take strict measures, otherwise Central government's effort will go in vain.Judiciary has the challenge to make legal technology available to the courts in the remotest parts of the country.

The Supreme Court Friday said states have to rise above the politics and harsh measures were required to be taken to contain the surge of COVID-19 as things have gone from bad to worse.

The apex court also said there are policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures (SoP) for COVID-19 management in the country but there is lack of implementation by the authorities and no concrete steps have been taken to deal with the issue.

The top court said “this is high time to take strict measures, otherwise Central government’s effort will go in vain.

The observations by a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan came
after the Centre apprised it that ongoing wave of the pandemic appears to be harsher than earlier.

The bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, was hearing a matter in which it had taken cognisance regarding need for proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that states will have to ensure strict implementation of the guidelines and SoPs as this wave appears to be harsher than the earlier ones.

Taking note of his submissions, the bench said,then harsher steps are needed to be taken. Things are going from bad to worse but no concrete steps are being taken. States will have to rise above the politics. All states will have to rise to the occasion.

Strict measures are required. This is high time to take strict measures, the bench said, adding, There are policies, guidelines and SoPs but there is no strict implementation. There is no will to implement all this.

When Mehta said that states would have to tighten up the implementation of measures to deal with the situation, the bench said, Yes, otherwise Central government’s effort will go in vain.

The solicitor general said, It cannot be me’ versus they’. It has to be us’.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, the bench observed, We are watching celebrations and processions being taken out in which 60 per cent people have no masks and 30 per cent have their masks hanging.

Mehta informed the bench that 10 states, including Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi, were currently contributing around 77 per cent of the active case load of COVID-19 in the country.

The apex court, which posted the matter for further hearing on December 1, also took cognisance of the fire incident in the ICU of a designated COVID-19 hospital at Rajkot in Gujarat in which five patients have died and came down heavily on the states for not taking any concrete action to mitigate the problem despite repeated instances.

Terming the fire incident at Rajkot as shocking, the apex court said this is a very serious thing and it reflects the situation of designated government hospitals as similar instances have taken place in other places also.

It asked the Gujarat government to submit a report before it on the fire incident by December 1.

The top court on November 23 had said that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened in Delhi and gone out of control in Gujarat and had directed the Centre and all states to apprise it of the steps taken to contain the situation nationwide.

It had expressed concern over the spurt in coronavirus cases across the country and said that the situation is likely to worsen in December and all states have to be ready to “combat” it.

In the June 19 order, the apex court had directed the Centre and states to set up an expert panel for effective monitoring, supervision and guidance of government and COVID dedicated hospitals for providing proper health care to patients.

It had directed the Centre to bring uniformity in charges of testing and other facilities and ordered it to constitute an expert committee of senior doctors of Central government hospitals, GNCTD run hospitals, AIIMS and responsible officer from the Union health ministry.

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