Telangana HC Warns State Govt of Contempt Proceedings, Directs to Reveal Covid-19 Data on Daily Basis
Telangana High Court on Monday stated that it will initiate contempt proceeding against the state government authorities if previous court orders are not implemented immediately, while hearing a batch of public interest litigations (PIL) related to concerns on the novel coronavirus spread in the state.
Recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the state is alarming as the 1,394 new confirmed cases and 70 deaths were reported in the span of the last 10 days. As of June 7 (last available data reported by the state government), the state has 3,650 confirmed cases and 137 deaths. As of Sunday evening, new positive cases were reported in nine districts in the state including Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Ranga Reddy, Medchal and Yadadri districts.
The state government’s containment strategy has been questioned numerous times in courts and by experts for its low rate of testing and for not testing asymptomatic patients and the deceased.
On not implementing previous orders to conduct testing on dead patients and increase random testing, Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan opined: “How is that our order is not being implemented when the SC has not stayed it? By now, it should be implemented and because of your carelessness and negligence, the state government is promoting COVID-19 spikes. If this is the attitude of the government then where do we go?”
While Advocate General Banda Shivananda Prasad informed the court that the state government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court on the high court directives, the high court stated that its orders should be implemented till the appeal in the apex court is taken up.
On the petitions alleging that the state government was hiding the real number of coronavirus infections, the court directed the authorities to give more details of patients, including their age and gender on a daily basis and asked to publish the vital information on internet and on the front pages of newspapers for the awareness of the general public.
“We may have to issue contempt notices to the health department principal secretary and the director if they continue to dodge this way,” said the Chief Justice.
In a press release on Monday, Chief Minister’s Office stated that “some newspapers and TV channels” are reporting fake news on the conditions of Gandhi Hospital, the state’s nodal hospital for Covid-19. Calling reports that Gandhi Hospital is overflowing with patients as a ‘blatant lie’, the press note said: “In Gandhi Hospital, we have facilities to treat 2,150 patients. It has 1,000 beds with an oxygen supply facility. As on date, there are only 247 corona patients at the hospital.”
On Sunday, 34 years old D Manoj, a journalist based in Hyderabad succumbed to coronavirus during his treatment at the Gandhi Hospital. Sainath, Manoj’s brother posted a video message on social media platforms explaining the sequence of events before the death of his brother. Sainath and Manoj were admitted in Gandhi Hospital on the night of June 3 after testing Covid-19 positive. In the video, Sainath alleged that “since the time we stepped into the ward at the Gandhi Hospital, there have been no proper facilities. No one took the responsibility to give information to patients”.
“ICU is not good. Please, let’s go to a private hospital. No one is taking care here.” was one of his brother’s last messages to him, says Sainath.
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