The Allahabad High Court on Monday came down heavily on Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath government for its inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and ordered the state administration to impose lockdown in five cities namely Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Gorakhpur. The Adityanath government, in an extraordinary development, refused to impose a complete lockdown in these cities.
According to news agency PTI, a two-judge bench comprising justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar passed the lockdown order on a Public Interest Litigation on the condition of quarantine centres in the state and treatment of coronavirus patients.
“We are of the considered view that in given scenario of present time if people are restrained from going outside their homes for a week in the first instance, the current chain of spread of COVID infection can be broken and this will also give some respite to the frontline medical and health workers.” the bench was quoted as saying.
But there were many other scathing observations made by the Bench in its order. We reproduce them below as reported by Livelaw;
“Before (the Pandemic) further spirals to engulf in it the entire population of these badly hit districts, it is necessary to take some harsh steps in larger public interest.”
“Putting lockdown to public activities was a matter, purely in the nature of policy decision by the concerned government, however, since no concrete plan had yet been chalked out by the Government of UP, the Court had to step in.”
“In a Democracy, there are legitimate expectations from the government to adopt measures to meet public health issues like all other issues of public interest.”
“In any civilised society if public health system is not able to meet the challenges and people die for want of proper medication, it means there has been no proper development. Health and education go side-byside”
“Those in the helm of affairs of governance are to be blamed for the present chaotic health problems and more so when there is a democracy which means a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
“If people die of the pandemic in a large number due to paucity of sufficient medical aid it would be the governments to blame that failed to counter the pandemic even after one long year of experience and learning”
“One would only laugh at us that we have enough to spend on elections and very little to spend on public health”
“Economy, Economy and Economy is the only tune that the government is all the time harping upon, but bread and butter if you take to a person who needs oxygen and medication, it will be of no use to him”
“You may have grocery shops full of eatables and industries which produce bikes and cars but all this won’t be of any use if your medical shops run out of stock of life-saving drugs like Remdesvire in the current surge of the pandemic”
“It is a shame that while the Government knew of the magnitude of the second wave it never planned things in advance”
“We find from the scenario that emerges from the Government Hospitals that admission of patients to ICUs are largely being done on the recommendation of VIPs. Even supply of the life-saving drug namely #Remdesivir is being provided only on the recommendation of VIPs.”
“VIPs and VVIPs are getting their RT-PCR report within 12 hours, whereas, the ordinary citizen is kept waiting for such reports for two to three days and thus, spreading further infection to other members of his/her family”
“If the popular government has its own political compulsions in not checking public movements during this pandemic, we can not remain mere passive spectators”
“Public health is the topmost priority and call of the moment and any complacency of any degree today will cause havoc to people. We can’t shirk away from our constitutional duty to save innocent people from the pandemic which is spreading due to the negligence of a few”
Interestingly, Varanasi is represented by none other than Prime Minister Narendar Modi, while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh represents Lucknow parliamentary seat. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had represented Gorakhpur on several occasions in the parliament in the past.