CRUX: Sachdanand Darbal v Union of India (31st March, 2021)- The issue that the present case deals with is the issue of increasing of daily testing in the event of the Kumbh Mela in Rishikesh and Haridwar.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 31st March, 2021.
JUDGES: Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, Alok Kumar Verma.
Sachdanand Darbal (Appellant)
Union of India (Respondent)
SUMMARY: The following case deals with the issue of increase of COVID tests in Haridwar and Rishikesh in the eve of the Kumbh Mela.
- The pandemic caused by the coronavirus that is plaguing the world, and India, today, has forced people to ensure social distancing, ensuring fewer gatherings in public spaces and ensuring self-sanitation.
- The Kumbh Mela festival is a festival celebrated in a cycle of twelve years at four river-bank pilgrimage sites: Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain. The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the waters of the rivers that run through these cities.
- The festival is stated to be held in Haridwar and Rishikesh this year. It is expected to see a gathering of more than 50,000 people in the event.
- The Uttarakhand High Court, taking cognizance of the issue surrounding the pandemic and the festival, ordered the Uttarakhand government to ensure and increase daily testing for the virus.
- The order was passed in order to control and reduce the spread of the infection of the virus.
The following issue was analyzed by the court:
- Should the Uttarakhand government increase daily testing in order to control the spread of the virus?
ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGMENT
- The counsel for the appellant contended before the court that the court had ruled earlier that vaccination centers should be established throughout the Kumbh Mela area. However, the counsel for the appellant submitted before the court that there seems to be some doubt whether those, who have taken their first dose of vaccination, would be permitted to enter the Kumbh Mela area or not.
- In response to the contention by the counsel, the court held that those, who had taken their first dose of the vaccination, and are certified to be COVID19 negative, shall be permitted to enter the Kumbh Mela area.
- The court also directed the State government to encourage the people attending the Kumbh Mela to take their first or second dose of the vaccine at the designated vaccination centres throughout the Kumbh Mela area.
- The court also directed the State government to publish the data on internet with regard to the number of persons found to be COVID-19 positive, and with regard to any death caused by COVID-19.
- The court held that the aforementioned data was to also include the age group of persons, who are found to be COVID-19 positive, and those, who may unfortunately expire due to the said virus. The said data was to be published by the State Government on a daily basis.
- The court also directed the chief secretary, secretary of Medical Health and Family Welfare and the district magistrate of Haridwar to appear before the court at the next hearing.
- The court ordered the State government to open night-shelters, mobile washrooms and urinals, and with drinking water facilities to be made available to the devotees attending the Kumbh Mela.
- Lastly, the court ordered the State government to ensure that standard operating procedures issued by the Central and the State government were adhered to and followed strictly and ensuring strict adherence to the same.
The issue that the present case deals with is the issue of increase of COVID tests in Haridwar and Rishikesh in the eve of the Kumbh Mela. The court, in the present case, held in the positive and contended that there should be an increase in the number of daily COVID tests.
As there is an increase in the number of daily COVID cases, it has become imperative, in the view of the court, to ensure that the State government should increase tests, ensure strict adherence to standard operating procedures, and make other arrangements so that there is a control over the spread of the virus. With these directions, the matter was posted for further hearing on 15th April.
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