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The Supreme Court, on Thursday, ordered the Central government to ban use of disinfectant tunnels involving spraying or fumigation of chemical /organic disinfectants on human beings noting that they were harmful to the human body.
A Justice Ashok Bhushan led bench also pulled up the central government for the legal vacuum with regard to spraying of such disinfectants and fumigation or use of Ultra Violet rays against the human body underscoring that mere advisories from the government in this regard were not sufficient.
The Bench, which also comprised Justices R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, stated that there is a need for a "regulatory regime" to deal with disinfectant tunnels or chambers and the Central government cannot shirk responsibility by merely stating that the use of such chemicals and disinfectant tunnels is "not recommended".
the judgment said.
The ruling from the top court came on a plea seeking an immediate ban on the use, installation, production or advertisement of disinfectant tunnels set up to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The petitioner, Gurusimran Singh Narula, a final year student from Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT Kharagpur, had argued that the disinfectants that are said to prevent the spread of COVID-19, are, in fact, ineffective and expose people to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
The Central government, in its affidavit, had informed the Supreme Court that the guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has advised against the use of disinfectant tunnels and sprays for people as a measure against COVID-19.
The Centre had said that the guidelines and SOPs had enlisted various measures and protocols to be adopted for cleaning and sanitisation. Disinfectant fogging as a method to sanitize was not recommended in these guidelines for routine patient care areas or operation theatres as these disinfectants can be hazardous.
The top court made it clear in its judgment that such advisories were not sufficient and something more could have been done to remove the "cloud of uncertainty."
the apex court said.
The petitioner had approached the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on two occasions in the past. However, the advisory issued by the Ministry in April did not address the issue regarding use of such disinfectant chambers and tunnels. In fact, advisories promoting use of such chemical disinfectants were issued subsequently by two bodies, the plea said.
The top court has also asked Centre on Thursday to issue directions under the National Disaster Management Act to prevent "exposure of human being to artificial ultraviolet rays."
A period of one month has been given to the Centre to implement the ban.
The Court further held that provisions of Disaster Management Act including Section 10, 36 and other provisions "are not only provisions of empowerment but also cast a duty on different authorities to act in the best interest of the people to subserve the objects of the Act."