- Apprentice Lawyer
Failure on the part of governments to implement Covid-19 guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP) has resulted in Covid-19 pandemic spreading like wildfire, the Supreme Court observed on Friday issuing a slew of guidelines to combat the Coronavirus.
A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan called for a joint effort by the authorities and the citizens to fight Covid-19 and asked all States to act vigilantly and to work with the Centre harmoniously.
The Bench which also comprised Justices R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah also urged people to co-operate and follow the rules by the book also ordered strict and stern action against those who are found violating guidelines and SOPs.
The Court noted that by not following the Guidelines/SOPs issued by the State from time to time, such as, not wearing the masks, not keeping social distance etc. people were not only causing harm to themselves but also to others.
"They cannot be permitted to play with the lives of the others and they cannot be permitted to infringe the rights of other citizens," the Court said.
The top court was hearing a suo motu case relating to disposal of dead bodies.
In its order today, the Court called for a government-public partnership to tackle Coronavirus.
Regarding the COVID-19 cost for treatment, the Supreme Court observed that "if one survives from COVID-19, many times financially and economically he is finished."
Therefore, either more provisions should be made in government hospitals or there should be cap on the fees charged by the private hospitals, which can be in exercise of the powers under the Disaster Management Act, the court said.
With respect to compliance with mask and social distancing norms, the Court asked Additional Chief Secretary (Home)/Secretary (Home) of respective States to ensure the strict implementation of SOP.
Further, it also ordered that whenever directions are issued under the Disaster Management Act directing corporate hospitals/private hospitals to keep 50% or any other percentage of free municipal beds, it must be strictly complied with and there shall be constant vigilance and supervision to ensure it is enforced.
Significant among the Court's was the exhortation to ramp up testing and to ensure that there is transparency in declaring the number of Covid positive patients lest people lower their guard.
The three-judge bench also ordered all States to ensure that police is deployed at areas where there is a risk of people flouting social distancing protocols.
Regarding giving breaks to doctors from service in order to afford them time to rejuvenate, the Court asked the Centre to formulate a mechanism for the same.
Besides Covid, the Court in a bid to prevent loss of life due to fire tragedies in Covid hospitals, directed all States/Union Territories to appoint one nodal officer for each Covid hospital. Such officer shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with all fire safety measures, the Court added.
The issue of fire safety in hospitals was also taken up suo motu Rajkot fire tragedy in which five persons were killed after a fire broke out at a Covid hospital.
In this regard the Court today ordered the following:
1. In each district, State Government should constitute a committee to carry fire audit of each Covid hospital atleast once in a month and inform the deficiency to the management of the hospital and report to the Government for taking follow up action.
2. The Covid hospital who have not obtained NOC from fire department of the State should be asked to immediately apply for NOC and after carrying necessary inspection, decision shall be taken.
3. In event, Covid Hospital is found not having NOC or not having obtained renewal, appropriate action be taken by the State.
The matter will now be taken up after four weeks for compliance.