Why is Covid getting out of control in Gujarat, asks SC
The Supreme Court on Monday sought status reports within two days from all states and Union Territories on measures to tackle rising Covid-19 cases during the current month and anticipated spike in December, as it singled out Gujarat, Delhi and Maharashtra for the spurt.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan cautioned that while the current month has witnessed a spike, the coming month of December is likely to worsen for which the authorities ought to pull up their socks before things go out of control.
“In Gujarat, the situation is going out of control…. We want to know what’s happening in the state of Gujarat. We would like to know what is the policy decision being adopted? Can you tell us what is happening in your state? What are the steps you are taking with regard to political events, marriages and other public activities?” Justice M.R. Shah, one of the judges, asked the counsel appearing for the Gujarat government.
The counsel offered to place before the court within the next two days a status report on the various measures initiated by the state to tackle the problem.
“We are hearing about huge spike in the current month. We want a latest status report from all states. Worse things may happen in December, if states aren’t well prepared. After Delhi and Maharashtra, situation in Gujarat has also worsened. Why is that you are allowing marriage celebration during daytime? You file an affidavit on the status report on steps taken as on date,” the bench said.
The bench had earlier on June 12 taken suo motu cognisance of news reports on various shortcomings in the steps being taken by authorities like provision of adequate hospital beds, ICU facilities, cremation of bodies etc, particularly in the national capital. Since then it has been passing various orders to the authorities.
The court on Monday also asked additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain appearing for the Delhi government: “We want to know how are you managing the situation? How are hospitals treating patients? Are there enough beds?”
Jain told the bench that pursuant to the court’s last order of July 27, the state had taken a number of steps. He assured the court that there are sufficient beds in Delhi for treating Covid-19 patients. Jain informed the bench that the Delhi government has also earmarked 395 spots for proper cremation of bodies of those who succumbed to the pandemic.
“We have no difficulty that you have complied with orders of this court. But looking at the present situation, what else are you doing?” the bench questioned while asking the law officer to submit a detailed report on behalf of the Delhi administration.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta appearing for the Union government told the court that Union home minister Amit Shah had a meeting on November 15 with different stakeholders and pursuant to it several directives were issued. He offered to place the details in an affidavit.
The bench after hearing the submissions passed the following written order:
“Heard Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General appearing for the Union of India and learned counsel appearing for the States of Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam and different States. It is submitted in this Court that in the month of November, 2020, there has been a great spike of the Covid cases throughout the country, especially in the States of Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
“Mr. Sanjay Jain, learned senior counsel appearing for the NCT of Delhi submits that the State of NCT of Delhi has already filed an affidavit with regard to compliance of the orders passed earlier on 27.07.2020. Learned counsel appearing for the States of Gujarat and Maharashtra also states that compliance affidavits have been filed.
“Mr. Mehta, learned Solicitor General submits that the Union of India through Home Ministry has already taken steps with regard to situation in Delhi and several measures have been taken by the Central Government. He further prays for time to file an affidavit to bring the status of Covid cases in the country especially Delhi. Learned counsel appearing for the States of NCT of Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam also pray for some time to file a status report regarding the present situation of the Covid cases and steps taken to mitigate the situation. It is also submitted that the situation in the month of December is likely to worsen and all States have to be prepared to combat the worsened situation regarding Covid-19.
“We are of the view that the immediate steps are required to be taken by all the States as well as by the Union of India. Let status report, as indicated above, be filed within two days from today and the matter be listed on 27.11.2020 for consideration and passing appropriate orders,” the bench said.