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Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court comprising Justice Anil Kilor, during an exceptional hearing held on Sunday afternoon, issued notices to the State Government, Central Government, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ICMR, National Centre for Disease Control New Delhi, District Collector and Nagpur Municipal Corporation, while hearing a PIL filed by Chhaoni resident Mohammad Nishat S/o Mohammad Salim over NMC’s move of shifting 1408 persons from Nagpur’s Satranjipura area to quarantine facilities.
The petitioner stated that the respondent authorities have illegally detained 1408 residents of Satranjipura area by violating the prescribed protocols and guidelines issued by ICMR and Union Health Ministry. The counsel for petitioner Dr Tushar Mandlekar argued that residents/citizens can be only detained and quarantined for 14 days if they are found to be ‘High Risk Contacts’ or ‘COVID-19 Positive.’ Mandlekar argued that NMC has illegally detained 1408 persons by ‘randomly selecting persons’ from a particular area without even confirming the fact that they are ‘High Risk Contacts’ of a positive person.
Mandlekar said that the detention of citizens being amounts to violation of fundamental rights u/a 14, 19, 21 of Constitution of India. It was also argued that in spite of various advisories issued by ICMR on April 4, April 17 and April 22, no efforts are being made to conduct rapid test on citizens who are residing in hot spots.
The High Court had also directed the authorities on April 30 to conduct rapid tests in hotspots so as to make screening and surveillance of citizens in these containment areas. The testing will also ‘identify’ the infected persons and makes it easier for administration to act upon.
It was further argued that according to the Central Government Guidelines ‘institutional quarantine facilities’ need to be in outskirts of the city limits and not in densely populated areas. But in Nagpur, suspects are being placed in MLA Hostel, Vanamati, Ravi Bhavan and VNIT hostel, thereby increasing the threat to normal citizens residing in the vicinity of these areas. Mandlekar argued that the authorities are involved in illegal detention of randomly selected persons and there is no reasonable basis of such selection of citizens for ‘quarantine facilities.’
It was also argued that Central Government has issued another notification on April 28 according to which even a positive COVID-19 patient is required to be kept in home quarantine and hence such ‘institutional quarantine of large number of persons’ is not required.
High Court issued notices to the respondent authorities and directed them file the reply within two days and listed the case on May 5. Advocate Tushar Mandlekar, assisted by Advocate Rohan Malviya argued for petitioner. Advocate Suman Deopujari (Government Pleader) waived notice for state government. Advocate Sudhir Puranik waived notice for NMC. Assistant Solicitor General of India appeared for Central Government and ICMR.