PIL in SC to increase the number of authorised laboratories testing for the coronavirus in India has been converted into a representation that may be submitted to be kept in advisement by the Union Government

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The Supreme Court on Monday converted a petition seeking a direction to increase the Coronavirus testing laboratories and quarantine/isolation centres across the country, especially in the rural parts, into a representation to be placed before the government for immediate action.

Prior Facts:

The PIL filed earlier this month had also called for increasing the number of quarantine and isolation centres, so that the country can be prepared if the number of affected persons rises.

Key Features:

  • The petition was filed eight days ago when the court reopened after the Holi break.
  • The petitioner stated that merely issuing notice now and waiting for a reply from the government would take time.
  • He stated that “What we need now is immediate steps. So, though the court initially thought of issuing notice, it later felt it would be better if the petition was directly placed before the government for immediate steps”.
  • The petition said an “exponential increase in the number of authorised laboratories for testing Coronavirus (COVID-19) was necessary to ensure widespread accessibility of the testing centres given the huge population of our country”.
  • The plea said the government should make available temporary hospital beds and other facilities for rural patients to be combat-ready for any exigency in case of a possible outbreak in the rural areas.
  • The Constitution, both explicitly and implicitly, provided for a right to safety as well as the right to a healthy standard of living along with improved public health, it pointed out.
  • The petition said that “Moreover, facilities should be built from primary health centre level at the block to the district level, so that each district is turned into a self-sustaining unit, including laboratories to test, quarantine centres to inhabit infected individuals and to have temporary hospitals, fully-equipped to respond in the eventuality of an outbreak”.

Prayer by the Petitioner:

Because of these concerns, the petitioners had prayed that the Supreme Court:

  • Direct the Government to exponentially increase the number of authorised laboratories for testing Coronavirus (COVID-19) to ensure widespread accessibility of the testing centres given the huge population of our country;
  • Direct the Government to exponentially increase quarantine/isolation centres in the event of a further outbreak of COVID-19;
  • Direct the Government to make available temporary hospital beds and such other facilities for rural patients to be combat-ready for any exigency in case of a possible outbreak in rural India;
  • Direct the Government to facilitate thermal screening at public places as a precautionary measure to contain the outbreak of COVID-19.

Judgment:

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde remarked orally that the government was working hard to contain the virus and agreed with petitioners’ advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, appearing for journalist Prashant Tandon and activist Kunjana Singh that “time is of the essence”.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.