New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday said in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, if the government were to take a decision to impose lockdown, it must be announced well in advance to enable people to make provisions for their livelihood.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah said: “In a micro containment zone or in an area where number of cases are on higher side, to cut the chain, they should be sealed and there should be complete lockdown so far as such areas are concerned.”
The bench emphasised that more and more police personnel shall be deployed at the places where there is likelihood of gathering by the people, such as food courts, eateries, vegetable markets, bus stations, railway stations, street vendors, etc. Curfew on weekends/night be considered by states where it is not in place, added the top court.
The bench added that such containment areas need to be sealed for few days except essential services, which is required to break the chain of virus spread. However, the top court said: “Any decision to impose curfew and/or lockdown must be announced long in advance so that the people may know and make provisions for their livelihood, like ration etc.”
In order to contain the spread of pandemic, the bench emphasised that there should be a mechanism to check the number of people attending functions. The bench said unless necessary, no permission shall be granted by the local administration for gathering even during the day hours. “Wherever the permissions are granted, the local administration/DSP/Collector/in-charge of the local police station shall ensure the strict compliance of the guidelines/SOPs”, said the top court, which passed a slew of directions to effectively monitor and supervise the implementation of various SOPs and guidelines to contain Covid-19.
On the aspect of doctors and health care professionals involved in the fight against Covid-19, the bench said: “Another issue is a fatigue of front row health care officers, such as, doctors, nurses as well as workers. They are already exhausted physically and mentally due to tireless work for eight months. Some mechanism may be required to give them intermittent rest.”
Regarding gatherings in political rallies, the top court said states and UTs should issue necessary directions to ensure compliance of Election Commission guidelines. The top court emphasised that there is a need to guide people to implement the guidelines and the SOPs issued by the government such as, wearing of masks, keeping social distance etc.
The order came in a suo moto case for proper treatment of Covid-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in hospitals.