The Madras High Court on Thursday pulled up the Union government over its alleged lapse in taking prompt action in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, wondering what it was doing for 14 months. Chief Justice Sanjeeb Banerjee said there was a need to act on expert advice and not ad hocism.
"Why are we acting only now in April, though we had one full year?" the CJ asked, when Additional Solicitor General R Sankaranarayanan told the court that the resurgence of the second wave of the virus was 'unexpected'.
The CJ also questioned the pricing of the vaccines and the alleged crash of an app for registration of vaccination for persons over 18 years, scheduled to start on Saturday. To this, the ASG answered that he would submit his reply on Friday. "There is a need to act on expert advice and not on ad hocism," the CJ said.
The first bench of Chief Justice Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was hearing the issue of alleged shortage of Remdesivir, vaccines, beds and ventilators and diversion of oxygen cylinders to other states, when it came up for further hearing on Thursday. The court had taken up the matter on its own, based on newspaper reports.
Earlier, the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday told the High Court that there was no need to clamp a lockdown in the state on Saturday, a day ahead of counting of votes polled in the April 6 Assembly elections, saying May 1 is already a holiday on account of May Day.
The submission comes in the wake of the first bench's suggestion to the Tamil Nadu government and Puducherry administration to consider declaring complete lockdown on May 1 and May 2.
On April 26, the bench had made a scathing attack on the EC accusing it of being 'singularly' responsible for the resurgence of the second wave of COVID-19, slamming it for allowing the political parties to hold rallies, in the run up to the polls.
The Advocate General told the judges complete lock down on May 1 would also affect the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination, in which all over 18 years would be covered. There would, however, be a complete lock down on May 2, as it happens to be Sunday, in line with a Tamil Nadu government announcement earlier, he added.
The Puducherry government pleader informed the bench that the lockdown in the Union Territory had already been extended till May 3. The bench then adjourned the matter by a day with a direction to the AG to submit a report on the preventive measures in the state borders, COVID-19 preparedness and the media guidelines on the counting day.