New Gujarat bench, new observations
Gujarat High Court, which had just over a week ago held the state government to account for its handling of the coronavirus crisis, has changed its tune after the bench hearing the case was changed.
“In times of crisis, we need to bind, not bicker. The Covid-19 crisis is a humanitarian crisis, not a political crisis. Hence, it is imperative that no one politicise this issue,” the bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J.B. Pardiwala said, in words that would be music to the Gujarat government’s ears.
The bench expressed anguish that the court’s observations on the government’s handling of the pandemic had sparked “unnecessary debates”.
“If the state government would not have been doing anything, as alleged, then probably, by now, we all would have been dead,” the bench added.
This was in sharp contrast to what the court had said on May 22, while hearing the same PIL, when it compared the government-run Ahmedabad Civil Hospital to a “dungeon” and described the state as “one of the worst-affected in the country”.
Within days of the withering comments, the bench of Justice Pardiwala and Justice Ilesh Vora was changed, with the chief justice deciding to head the bench himself.
“Merely criticising the government in power is not going to magically cure people of Covid-19, nor is it going to make the dead come back to life,” the new bench said.