HC asks state to ensure safety of citizens

‘Focus on testing centres, crowd’

SHILLONG: The High Court of Meghalaya has asked the state government to strictly ensure that safety of the public is maintained especially in centres of testing or wherever a sizeable number of persons are likely to assemble.
The court while hearing the pending PIL on COVID-19 via video conferencing also asked the government to adhere to the set protocols and keep the public informed as to the developments by issuing necessary advisories from time to time.
The division bench comprising Justice W Diengdoh and Justice HS Thangkhiew also observed that the petitioner is at liberty to raise any other concerns that may arise but the same should be supported by credible facts and information.
The PIL was filed by Meghalaya High Court Bar Association and Joannes JTL Lamare.
The matter will come up for hearing on June 15.
Concerns of petitioner
Earlier, in the affidavit filed by the petitioner’s association, concern has been raised that in spite of the order of the court for dissemination of information on home quarantine, no tangible action has been taken by the government and it was submitted that the order of the court has been willfully violated.
Concern has also been raised with regard to the efficacy of the quarantine app and submissions have been made that the same is not as effective as touted by the government.
Statements have also been made with regard to the effectiveness of geo fencing apart from other concerns such as the procedure in testing of persons arriving from other states who, after disembarking from the buses at testing centres, are allowed to loiter around without any proper segregation from other public. The affidavit has also highlighted about a COVID-19 positive person who had travelled to Karimganj.
However, in reply, the state has countered the concerns raised by reiterating the fact that the state is working to its utmost capacity in tackling the situation and strict protocols are maintained. To the query regarding the advisory and instructions for home quarantine, it has been stated in the affidavit that information has been issued regarding the matter.
No public address system
However, the Advocate General submitted that the public address system has not been conducted so far, as it involves a large number of communities, which has presented a logistical challenge but assured that there is no willful violation of the orders of the court.
Stigmatisation
On another aspect which had been flagged in the earlier hearing regarding the sticking of notices outside the houses of persons under home quarantine and also stamping of the hands of persons who are supposed to be under home quarantine, the Advocate General submitted that the same has not been acted upon, as there was a possibility of stigmatisation of the persons under quarantine.
The submission was countered by the counsel for the petitioner who has referred to the earlier affidavit filed by the states respondents, wherein it has been categorically stated that the protocol had been put in place.
The discrepancy was noted by the court but taking into account the nature of the matter with directives that change with an evolving situation, the same was disregarded.

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