On 28th April 2021, the petition was filed before the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court by a human rights activist named Saket Gokhale. The petition was filed by the petitioner in the quest to restrain the Hon’ble Uttar Pradesh Government from taking intimidating action against any such persons who demand Oxygen supply and any other medical assistance on social media platforms.
Additionally, the petitioner in his petition filed before the Hon’ble court seeks protection of independent volunteers who are helping, serving, and assisting COVID-19 patients, and their families by gathering information on oxygen and medicine availability on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp.
After the instant petition, the petitioner has also stated that “Recoding and filing of criminal cases against family, friends, and relative of the critical patients issuing SOS (emergency) call for oxygen and medicine availability on social media is a gross misuse of the powers of the state and is illegal.
In continuation, the petitioner also claimed that intimidating action that is being taken by the Uttar Pradesh Government to “maintain the image of the government” and to clamp down on any criticism of their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic situation and to present a fake picture that everything is well-built in the state is the exploitation of the authoritative power granted to the government of the state.
Further, the petitioner in his petition filed asserts that the police authority in Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh earlier this week has charged a boy under various provisions of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as “IPC, 1860”) for “spreading incorrect information” on social media platforms.
In light of the charge framed against the boy, the accused boy had issued an appeal on Twitter for leads for oxygen availability to save the life of his grandfather who was critical. In the due course, the accused boy in light of the charges framed against him argues, that accusing him of asking for help violates his fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21 and the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 guaranteed to every person in India under the constitution of India.
In furtherance, the petitioner in his petition filed before the Hon’ble HC states that “bullying and threatening the family, friends, and relatives of COVID-19 patients who might be facing an oxygen shortage, which is a matter of life and death, is leading to fear amongst critical COVID-19 patients’ families and preventing them from reaching out for help which might save the life of their loved one. There can be no more illegal violation by the State (Respondent) in depriving people of their fundamental rights to life as well as the free expression on the frivolous grounds that “it portrays a negative impression of the Government of Uttar Pradesh.”
However, the Hon’ble Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on a virtual press meet happened on Sunday proclaimed that there is no shortage of oxygen in any private or public COVID-19 hospital in the State of Uttar Pradesh and that action under National Security Act may be taken against people spreading “rumors” on social media.
Additionally, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh during the virtual press meet issued directions to high-rank Police officials to “keep a watch” on people spreading rumors, and duly investigate all such occurrences to see if the scarcity was reported just to create fear.
Needful to mention that only yesterday, the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court had also taken note of the severe shortage of medical Oxygen and medicines in the State of Uttar Pradesh and had sought a report from the Government on the need of both Government and private Covid-hospitals in the State of Uttar Pradesh and the working of the oxygen plants.
In light of the issue reported before the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court, the Hon’ble HC has issued directions/ measures for uninterrupted supply of oxygen and medicines quoting “No One Should Die For Want Of Oxygen”.
Lastly, the Hon’ble court also observed that “If even after seven decades of our attaining freedom with so many heavy industries set up, we are not able to provide oxygen to our citizens, it’s a matter of shame.”