‘Shameful’: Bombay HC condemns public for flouting Covid protocol

Condemning the public for failing to act responsibly and violating Covid-19 protocol despite a surge in cases, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court directed authorities to strictly impose restrictions to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

“It is quite shameful that we are unable to discipline ourselves and we find it very easy to blame the administration for being infected with Covid virus due to our own acts,” the High Court noted, ordering the police to ensure Covid protocol is followed and face masks are worn in public places at all times.

The court was hearing a petition based on news reports, to address the issues that have arisen during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. These included the funeral rites of Covid-19 patients, the shortage of medical oxygen supply and the sale of crucial medicines such as Remdesevir on the black market.

“We have seen in news reports that people appear to take pride in hanging mask below chin; same is case with helmets, which are hung on rear side of motorcycle so as to immediately wear it the moment traffic police constable is seen by rider from distance,” the bench observed. “In these premises, we were compelled to pass orders making the use of helmets and masks compulsory, as if it is only govt duty to protect citizens and that the citizens owe no duty towards themselves or their family members.”

The Court directed authorities to increase Rapid Antigen Tests at Public Health Centres and rural hospitals so that test results can be conveyed to the patients within 30 minutes and they can immediately be shifted to Covid facilities.

“People from villages, in suspicion rush to nearest PHCs or rural hospitals where RT-PCR sample collection centres may be available. However, samples have to be transported to larger city. It takes two days to convey result, which can turn out to be fatal,” the court observed.

Addressing the crisis caused by a rise in Covid deaths, the court asked industrialists, philanthropists, and NGOs to come forward and contribute towards the establishment of LPG crematoriums. It added that public representatives are expected to use constituency development funds for erecting electric and LPG crematoriums.

Upon learning about former Aurangabad Mayor Nandkumar Ghodele being booked for flouting Covid norms by celebrating his birthday, the court said, “We are surprised as to why people’s representatives who are supposed to lead from front are celebrating their birthdays publicly.”