/ Updated: Jun 14, 2020, 06:00 IST

Vigorous testing, equal ealthcare for all: HCIncreasing public healthcare budget was high on the court’s listBench disposes of Covid-19 petitions but lists numerous measures to fight the pandemic

The Bombay High Court on Friday disposed of numerous public interest litigations pertaining to the pandemic, as it took a serious note of the deteriorating ground situation in Mumbai and suggested that a more vigorous strategy be planned to fight the coronavirus.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Amjad Sayed, in a 96-page judgment, also listed various measures – both precautionary and otherwise – for citizens and frontline workers.

While leaving certain issues for the administrators to handle, the court said there are certain endeavors which it expects to continue.

Increasing budgetary allocation for public healthcare and for setting up of more modern facilities to cope with such challenges topped the court’s list.

In addition to an intensive contact- tracing while also aggressively testing suspected cases, the court batted for an extensive information drive to increase awareness on the dos and don’ts of Covid-19, a wholesome strategy for all classes of patients, and balanced healthcare for Covid-19 patients and those suffering from other diseases. The court also suggested a website with real-time information on availability of facilities at hospitals/ clinics. The state should take an informed decision on the continuation of lockdown or revocation of relaxations to the extent necessary, said the court. The bench also issued directions for testing of frontline workers saying they must be tested as and when they express willingness.

The court has also directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up a grievance redressal cell where complaints can be lodged online or offline. “The IAS officer who has been deputed to monitor and oversee the activities related to Covid-19, or any other officer, shall be appointed as the head of the cell,” the bench observed.

Another important direction from the court was that other municipal corporations in the state set up a helpline number like the BMC’s 1916. It also asked the BMC to put up all the information provided to the court during the hearing of these PILs on its dashboard.

Certain medical associations had intervened in the case seeking to convert anaesthesia machines into ventilators and for a common platform for teleconsultation with patients. The bench has said that not only should these points be considered by the state and the BMC, but other suggestions offered by such institutions/associations must also be looked into by the special task force and implemented without any delay if found beneficial.

‘EQUAL SOCIETY A DISTANT DREAM’

As it took into account the grim situation in the state, the court observed that the pandemic had revealed that despite our constitutional guarantees, a society that provides equal opportunities to all remains a “distant dream,” adding that going by the current situation of the economy and healthcare, “one can hardly think of a fair society in the near future”.

“The pandemic and the resultant lockdown have destabilised the Indian economy, while wrecking the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ alike…It has shown how pitiable the conditions of migrant workers in India are… And as things stand now, one can hardly think of a fair and just society any time in the near future,” the bench observed.

courtesy Mumbai Mirror

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