Coronavirus | Allahabad HC pulls up govt. for death of 135 staff on poll duty


Work with all sections to tackle pandemic, bench tells U.P. govt

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday said those in power in Uttar Pradesh “must shun the attitude of ‘my way or no way’ and welcome suggestions from all the quarters” while dealing with the pandemic.

The court’s observation came while acknowledging that the government alone cannot fight the pandemic and needs the cooperation of people and active participation of various NGOs.

A division bench of Justices Ajit Kumar and Siddhartha Varma also took judicial notice of a report which said that 135 teachers, Shiksha Mitras and investigators, who were assigned election duty in the ongoing panchayat polls had turned positive and died.

“The situation overall in the major cites of Uttar Pradesh has gone very chaotic for the current Covid surge,” the court said.

The judges also took note of allegations that COVID-19 guidelines were not followed during the recent phases of the panchayat polls and observed that neither the police nor the Election Commission did anything to save the people on election duty from getting infected.

The court asked the U.P. State Election Commission to explain why it failed to check the non-compliance of COVID-19 guidelines during the panchayat polls and why action may not be taken against it and officials and to prosecute those responsible for such violations.

In a series of directions, the court said, the government must ensure that every death in all COVID-19 hospitals, assigned private hospitals and other COVID-19 centres is reported to a judicial officer to be appointed by the district judge. The government must ensure the correctness of the data forwarded to the officer concerned each day, the court said, also directing that the SHOs of the areas would have to ensure that the details of every COVID-19 death is entered in the register maintained at the cremation area.

“We make it clear that we will not tolerate any paperwork or public announcements to show account of the steps taken and its sufficiency as it is now an open secret that government had gone complacent due to weakening of virus impact by the end of 2020 in the state and the government got more involved in other activities including Panchayat elections. Had it been constantly vigilant, it would have prepared itself to face the onslaught of the pandemic in its second wave,” the court said.

A mere antigen negative report should not be a ground to throw a patient out of the hospital as such patients can still infect others, the court also said commenting on a common problem faced by patients.

“They need to be shifted to non-COVID wards for at least a week and for this government needs to gear up to set up makeshift wards on the campus of the hospitals if there is a space so that there may not be problem of nursing staff and health workers. Availability of oxygen is to be ensured in those wards also as SPO2 level still can be on a lower side,” the court said.

The court also asked the government to provide details of the exact number of COVID-19 deaths reported between April 19 and May 2 in 10 major districts. The court further sought the exact number of supply of life-saving drugs including Remdesivir in government hospitals as well as the statistical details of the oxygen supply to the government hospitals where there are no oxygen producing plants.



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