Litigation News

Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking a direction to Centre to ask China to disclose full details on COVID-19 to develop an antidote

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today dismissed the plea by a Doctors' Association seeking direction for Centre to make a representation before China to seek full disclosure on COVID-19 to develop an antidote.

The plea was sought to be withdrawn by the petitioner and the Court dismissed it as such. (Doctors For You vs Union of India)

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and MR Shah today took up for hearing petition moved by Doctors' organization, Doctors For You urging the Court to direct the Government of India to make a representation to China and seek information on COVID-19 to facilitate the development of an effective antidote for the same.

The plea, however, was sought to be withdrawn by the petitioner today when the matter came up for hearing and allowing the same, the Court dismissed the plea as withdrawn.

"Learned counsel for the petitioner seeks leave to withdraw the writ petition. Leave to withdraw the writ petition is granted. The writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn," the Court said in its order.

The PIL notes that while the pandemic put the lives of all the people around the world at stake, China was successful in controlling and restricting the virus to the Central city of Wuhan. This allowed the authorities to direct for reopening of the wet markets based on certain statistics and indicators.

In light of this, the PIL says that the government of India needs to make a representation to China and call upon this neighbouring nation to share the epidemiology, evolution, clinical data and full data on COVID-19 as well as the indicators and statistics.

The plea stresses that the petitioner is not for encouraging a blame-game, but for ensuring assistance to researchers to come up with an effective antidote against the virus.

As such, the plea prays that the Indian government be directed to call upon China to allow a probe by representatives of the most affected countries to assess the severity of the pandemic.

Diplomatic channels should be used to find out the RNA sequence of various strains and mutations found by China in the vicinity of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 disease is said to have originated from, the plea adds.

Considering that this is a lethal disease for those with underlying medical conditions, and is likely to affect almost 70 per cent of the entire population in due course of time, the petitioner organization has said that assessing reports from ground zero, Wuhan in this case, becomes pertinent. It says,

"This knowledge is necessary to develop an effective vaccine for Corona Virus including its various mutations. It is also necessary to study as to how the virus jumped species and affected human population. The study of ground zero is also imperative to understand the cause of the spread of the virus and develop eff'ective ways to prevent the spread of similar diseases in the future."

The petition also adds that the integrity of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is alleged to have been compromised, given that the body was very late in notifying the world of the dangers of COVID-19.

It goes on to add that the WHO should also be called out by the Indian Government for its delay in notifying the global community of the severity of COVID-19 and declaring it as a pandemic, while urging for a probe to be conducted.

The petition was drawn by Advocates Simar Suri, Aditya Giri, Dipika Jain, and Shivani Dewalla. Senior Advocate Rupinder Singh Suri settled this petition while it was filed through Advocate Abhishek Singh.

Read Order:

Doctors for You vs UOI - 17.06.2020.pdf
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