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Don't put asymptomatic people in hospitals: Supreme Court directs Noida authorities to file affidavit on COVID-19 quarantine guidelines

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court today directed the Noida authorities to file an affidavit detailing the COVID-19 quarantine guidelines being followed in the region (Rohit Bhalla versus Union of India).

The Bench was hearing a plea seeking directions to ease inter-state transport between Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana during the restrictions imposed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The matter was heard today by the three-judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah.

At the outset, Justice Bhushan asked counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government,

"Have you opened borders or not?"

Appearing for UP, Advocate Garima Prashad replied that the border was open only for essential services, and that the National Highways were open for now.

Advocate Aman Bhalla submitted that the border regulations in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic has "opened a Pandora's box of issues".

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan intervened, saying,

"Noida is following a completely different procedure relating to home quarantine and institutional quarantine. They are forcing people to get admitted...People are being put at risk."

In response, Justice Kaul said,

"Don't put asymptomatic people in hospitals. It will create a problem."

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Sankaranarayanan went on to say that this practice is causing deaths.

"A pregnant woman died as she could not get a bed. This was because asymptomatic people were admitted."

The Court ultimately directed the Noida authorities to file an affidavit detailing the quarantine guidelines being follow.

During an earlier hearing, the Court had pulled up the Noida District Magistrate for not following the COVID-19 quarantine protocol put in place by the UP government and the Centre.

On that date, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had apprised the Court that as directed, the Chief Secretaries of all three states and the Union Home Secretary had a meeting on June 9, where it was conveyed that there would be no restrictions on the Delhi-Haryana route. However, the Delhi-UP border still needed to be manned.

Advocate Garima Prashad, citing differences in population structure and the manner of handlingCOVID-19 cases, submitted that though there were home quarantine rules in Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad followed only institutional quarantine.

However, Justice Bhushan pulled up the Noida DM, observing,

"DM Noida has issued different instructions contrary to the one issued by State of UP. Though essential services are allowed but DM orders are not in conformity with the guidelines issued by state of UP. He is bound to follow national and state guidelines."

On June 4, Justice Bhushan said that there has been a suggestions that a common pass for the entire NCR region be recognized in all three states.

The petitioner was represented by Senior Counsel Mukul Talwar and Centre was represented by SG Tushar Mehta.

State of Uttar Pradesh was represented by Advocate Garima Prashad while AAG Anil Grover appeared for the State of Haryana.

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