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PIL on Covid-19 ‘mismanagement’ in Maharashtra: HC notice to Centre, state govt and BMC

Noting that the PIL raised ‘serious concern on control and spread in pandemic,’ and an ‘issue of public importance,’ the bench also asked Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to appear before it during the next hearing.

The Bombay High Court Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government, Centre and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate alleging improper management of Covid-19 treatment in Maharashtra. The court will next hear the matter on Thursday.

The high court, in its observations, said the issues raised were of ‘serious concern’.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by city-based lawyer Sneha Marjadi, argued through advocate Arshil Shah. The plea claimed insufficient facilities during the pandemic had led to violation of fundamental rights of citizens including their right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. The PIL further claimed authorities failed to systematise medical treatment and people had to run pillar to post seeking redressal.

Marjadi sought the intervention of the court to monitor the supply chain of remdesivir injections from pharmaceutical companies to its procurement in hospitals, and to stop black-marketing and profiteering that create a panic-like situation due to unavailability and overpricing of medicines. Shah, in his arguments, submitted that after directions of the Nagpur bench of the HC, the region received nearly 10,000 remdesivir vials.

The PIL also sought a status report on availability of beds in Covid-19 hospitals, laboratory test facilities and procurement of Remdesivir and oxygen.

Pointing out the social media posts of politicians and their statements annexed to the PIL, Chief Justice Datta pulled up the petitioner and said, “When you file a PIL, why would you include political comments? Are you interested in the benefit of underprivileged, poor and needy or you want to highlight political issues… We are not influenced by any political comments. You should have been careful.” To which, Shah submitted the said comments were included as politicians influence the decision-making process, however he was willing to delete the same.

The bench also asked Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to appear before it during the next hearing.

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