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Relying on newspaper reports, the petitioner has also raised concern that the quarantined persons are being lodged at facilities in crowded areas, which may exacerbate the spread of the virus.
Following an urgent hearing conducted on Sunday, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court has issued notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea raising grievance that Municipal Authorities have randomly picked non-risk persons from Nagpur for quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notice has been issued to the State Government, the Central Government, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and ICMR.
While issuing notice, Justice Anil S Kilor noted that the main issue raised by the petitioner concerned the alleged non-compliance of guidelines issued by the Union of India and the ICMR.
Advocate Tushar Mandlekar, appearing on behalf of the petitioner argued that the authorities were picking the persons randomly from the areas such as ‘Satranjipura’ and ‘Momimpura’ of Nagpur and placing them under quarantine, even though they are not falling in the categories of ‘High Risk Contacts’ and ‘Low Risk Contacts’.
It was further contended that if any person is not falling in the risk categories, then quarantining such person amounts to infringement of their rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of Constitution of India.
Based on news paper reports, the petitioner has also raised concern that the persons so quarantined have been lodged in areas that are crowded, instead of a facility on the outskirts as recommended by Central Government/ICMR guidelines.
Appearing for the State, Advocate Sudhir Puranik countered that only patients who are in the category of ‘High-Risk Contacts’ were being quarantined. It was further submitted that the Corporation was strictly adhering to the guidelines issued with regard to COVID-19.
Arguing on similar lines, Dr. Pravin Gantawar from Health Department of Corporation also stated that all these persons who have been quarantined are from the category of ‘High-Risk Contacts’ and that they were being detained with a view to break the chain of COVID-19.
The petitioner, in turn, clarified that he was not disputing that the steps undertaken by the authorities to break the chain of COVID-19. However, he reiterated that he was concerned the infection may spread further to nearby areas if persons are being quarantined in crowded areas.
On the State's request for more time to respond on the plea, the Court on Sunday adjourned the matter by two days. It is posted to be taken up tomorrow.
The prayers made by the petitioner also include:
To declare the conduct of the government, i.e, putting 1,408 persons in quarantine as illegal, bad in law and violative of the Standard Operating Procedure issued by ICMR;
To pass interim ex-party order to restrain from detaining any other person in quarantine in the said areas;
To direct the respondents to follow all the guidelines by ICMR and conduct Rapid Anti Body Tests in all hotspots in the State.
[Read the order here]