Uttarakhand High Court at Nainital
Uttarakhand High Court at Nainital
Litigation News

Quarantine centres at Village level the worst: Uttarakhand HC asks State to ensure sufficient funds for Gram Sabhas to run these centres

"We make it absolutely clear that the quarantine centres already existing should be improved", the Court said, while directing the State "to remove all the shortcomings in these quarantine centers."

Aishwarya Iyer

Taking note of the pitiable condition of COVID-19 quarantine centres in the State, particularly in villages, the Uttarakhand High Court has directed the Government to pass appropriate orders so that the “Gram Sabhas” have sufficient funds to manage and run these centres. (Sachdanand Dabral v Union of India and others PIL_58_order)

The State has also been asked to study reports filed by the District Legal Services Authorities of Districts Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar, Haridwar and Dehradun, after having inspected the quarantine centres in these areas.

On a perusal of the reports, the Bench of Justices Ravindra Maithani and Sudhanshu Dhulia took critical note that, "the quarantine centers which have been established at Village level are the worst of the lot."

Among the problems found, the Court observed that there are no facilities in these centers to provide food to the inmates. Instead, food was being provided by the villagers and the family members of the inmates. Another issue noted concerned the shocking conditions of toilets.

"In many of these quarantine centers where the inmates are more than 20 to 30, there are only 1 or 2 toilets. What is most shocking is that the hygienic condition of these toilets is also extremely poor. Most of these toilets are not clean. Apart from this, many of the toilets which are in urban areas are in bad conditions, as these toilets are not being cleaned regularly", the Court observed.

The Court went on to observe that the Gram Sabhas tasked with overseeing these aspects "are also short of funds and they appear to be in no condition to manage these quarantine centres."

While a Government Order passed last month had stated that sufficient funds would be made available to these functionaries, the Bench observed, "We are afraid that this is not being done properly as of now."

The State is now expected to issue necessary directions to the concerned District Magistrates to ensure that its own order for making sufficient funds available to the Gram Sabhas is implemented.

The Court also acknowledged on Tuesday that it may not be practically possible to implement its earlier directions to set up quarantine centres at border towns, given that lockdown restrictions are being eased now and a huge influx of people into the State is expected.

The Bench, therefore, modified its earlier directions to state that the Government may take "all possible efforts" to this end, while also keeping "the emerging conditions in mind."

In any case, the Court emphasised that the conditions of existing quarantine centres must be improved, adding "We direct the Secretary, Health, Government of Uttarakhand and the concerned District Magistrate to remove all the shortcomings in these quarantine centers."

The Registry has been directed to make the reports submitted to the Court on the issue available to the Advocate General so that the State Government may come up with suggestions on the next date of listing.

A detailed report on rapid testing for COVID-19 has also been sought from the Secretary, Health on the next date of listing. Earlier the Bench had mooted using rapid testing for COVID-19 surveillance purposes (as opposed to testing for diagnosis) in the State.

Another issue taken up concerned a complaint that many quarantine centres were charging from the inmates.

To this, the Secretary, Health has informed the Court that there were hotels earmarked as “quarantine centres”, for which Rs.950/- per person was being charged by the State Government, only if a luxury hotel was demanded by the affected person.

The details of such hotels and discrepancies are also to be given by the State to the Court by the next date of listing.

The matter will next be heard on June 17.

Read the Order here:

Sachdanand Dabral v Union of India and others PIL_58_order.pdf
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