Hyderabad: Pointing to government attempts of show fewer Covid-19 cases, the Telangana High Court on Tuesday asked it to conduct tests for Covid-19 on dead bodies before they are released from hospitals, apart from ordering it to provide data on tests conducted on returning guest workers and the upgrading of Covid-hit areas to green zones.
Using harsh words to pull up the state government, the court said it cannot be permitted to hide behind the fig leaf of financial constraints as human life was the most important for good governance. It observed that the state does not have the discretionary power to form its own opinion on conducting of tests by putting the health of the people at stake.
A bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy directed the government to inform the court of the number of guest workers who have returned to the state, how many of them had been tested and the outcome.
The court sought data on whether the positive cases had been sent to quarantine. It asked for the number of secondary contacts tested, what the situation was in the villages once the guest workers reached there.
The government was asked to file an elaborate report explaining how red and orange zones had been automatically changed to green zones, with specific reference to Suryapeta and Nirmal districts. The bench directed the collectors of Nirmal and Suryapeta districts to furnish detailed reports on the number of guest workers who had returned, and the tests performed on them.
The court gave these directions on five PILs filed by retired Osmania University professor P.L. Vishveshwar Rao and Dr Cheruku Sudhakar, Varun Sankineni, Dr K.P. Rajender, retired district medical and health officer, Gadwal, and advocate Naresh Reddy Chinnola from Nirmal. The petitioners had said that the government was not conducting adequate tests for Covid-19.
On the matter of not conducting tests on dead bodies, the court pointed out that the persons handling the body from the hospital to the house, the family members, friends and neighbors who participate in the cremation or burial or procession may be exposed to Coronavirus. The bodies should be tested as a measure of abundant caution, the court said.
“Rather than congratulating ourselves for having fewer Coronavirus cases, the state should rather take up more tests. Ignoring the presence of Coronavirus by not testing a large number of people is almost like inviting the Trojan horse,” Justice Chauhan said.
“When a country like the USA, which is financially stable and equipped with the best medical infrastructure, could fall prey to Coronavirus, a country like India and Telangana state should never sit back and relax but start strengthening ourselves to deal with this menace by going for more tests,” Justice Chauhan said.
The court brushed aside the submissions made by Dr Srinivasa Rao, director, public health and family welfare department, who stated that the government was not answerable to the WHO and was scrupulously adhering to the guidelines issued by ICMR, either on testing suspected patients or dealing with dead bodies.
Remarking that the contention was the bureacratic way of fooling the people, the Chief Justice read out some of the guidelines of ICMR and asked the director of the percentage of the 3.5 crore population of the state tested, as well as the tests conducted on secondary contracts of postive patients.
Observing that the government was taking the pandemic extremely lightly compared to earlier days, the bench asked the rationale behind the anouncement of the Chief Minister at a press conference allowing cabs and taxis to move in all zones.
“How can you allow people to roam from one end to another end (Adilabad to Mahbubnagar). Moreover, the people from other states heading to Telangana state are not asked to be quarantined,” the bench commented.
“Intially we were very happy with the efforts of the government in tackling the pandemic but now it seems very different and we are not able to get why the government has taken a U-turn,” the court said and wished that the state would beat Kerala in the matter of tackling Covid-19.