On Thursday, Supreme Court observed that there has to be a regulatory regime for the use of disinfectants, fumigation or UV rays on human body.
Under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 the Apex Court strongly urged to the Central Government to invoke the powers and consider the banning or regulating the usage of the disinfection tunnels involving spraying or fumigation of organic/chemical disinfectants for the human body.
The bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R. Subhash Reddy, and Justice MR Shah observed that “We are of the view that for spraying disinfectant on human body, fumigation or use of UV rays against the human body, there has to be regulatory regime when respondent No.1 itself is of the view that such use is not recommended”.
The bench cited, on 23 April, the joint release by CSIRNCL, Pune and ICT, Mumbai evaluated various concentrations of sodium hypochlorite to find effective chemical disinfectants for the midst of sanitization system.
The press release said that “Results indicated that 0.02 per cent to 0.05 per cent weight concentration did not show an adverse effect on normal skin flora and yet destroyed the standard microbes. Thus, we recommend using 0.02 to 0.05 wt. per cent sodium hypochlorite solution (200 to 500 ppm) for external body surface sanitisation of personnel walk through the mist tunnel by following standard safety precautions.“
While disposing a writ petition filed by Gursimran Singh Narula against use of chemical disinfectants for spraying and fumigation by organizations/public authorities, court issued these directions. He had sought a ban on all kinds of disinfectants on human beings.
The petitioner contended that, in the light of Right to Health under Article 21 of the constitution, the concept of “human disinfection” through walk in tunnel is flawed and misconceived and be not permitted at any cost.
Before the court, The Centre submitted, it had issued an advisory that use of the disinfectants on human body is not recommended.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its affidavit informed Apex Court that, the meeting of experts was held in June by the Directorate General of Health Services on the use of disinfectant tunnels, use of various chemicals and spraying of disinfectants along with the efficacy of such use of spraying/fogging.
An experts committee in April has said that, “External spraying of any chemical disinfectant does not kill the virus that has already entered the body of a person, who has earlier been exposed to the virus.”
“We are of the view that for spraying disinfectant on human body, fumigation or use of UV rays against the human body, there has to be regulatory regime when respondent No.1 itself is of the view that such use is not recommended. The respondent No.1 has wide powers and responsibilities under Act, 2005, which could have been utilized to remedy the situation. In event, use of disinfectant on human body is to cause adverse effect on the health of the people, there has to be immediate remedial action and respondent No.1 cannot stop only by saying that such use is not recommended.”, the bench observed.
The Apex court also that, it is needed to exercise statutory powers under the DMA to consider the ban or regulation on the use of such methods.
Observing the provisions which confer certain more responsibilities and duties on the centre apart from issuing of guidelines and providing financial support under Disaster Management Act 2005, Court said that , “The Pandemic being a disaster within the meaning of Act, 2005, has to dealt with sternly and effectively. We have no doubt that the Union and the States are taking all measures to contain the pandemic and all mitigating steps but the facts which have been brought on record in this writ petition indicate that in the present case, something more was required to be done by respondent No.1 apart from issuing advisory that use of disinfectant on human body is not recommended. When public authorities/ organizations were using disinfectants both chemical/organic on the human body and there are various studies to the effect that it may be harmful to the health and he body. Some more actions were required to remove the cloud of uncertainty and to regulate the use even if it was to either prevent such use or regulate the use so that health of citizens is amply protected.”
CASE: GURUSIMRAN SINGH NARULA vs. UNION OF INDIA [WRIT PETITION (C) NO.560 OF 2020]