‘COVID-19 physical distancing given up in all gatherings everywhere’: SC

The apex court observed that the guidelines laid down are not being followed in almost all of the states.
Supreme Court
Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that large public gatherings -- political, religious, ceremonial – are taking place wherein physical distancing has been given a complete miss. The apex court also added that there is no appropriate mechanism to check such social gatherings.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah said: "It has been pointed out that guidelines with regard to wearing of masks and keeping physical distancing are not being followed in almost all of the states."

Citing the swelling crowds in vegetable markets, where people do not maintain six feet physical distancing, the bench noted that state governments affidavits showing positive things cannot make it happy, and instead the court is concerned about how the ground situation can be improved.

The court also said that even though there are stringent regulations including imposing of fine on non-wearing of masks, yet desired results have not been achieved.

The bench said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and other counsel appearing for different states have requested time to give appropriate suggestions in the above regard so that appropriate directions may be issued by this court to implement the guidelines and to ensure the compliance.

These suggestions are supposed to be submitted by December 7.

The observations were made by the top court in a suo moto case in the proper treatment of COVID-19-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals.

Mehta said Delhi has a similar surge and Maharashtra is also showing signs of concern and Punjab too has started night curfew. "We have shifted 75 doctors and paramedics from other places to Delhi," he said.

Senior advocate K.V. Viswanathan, representing the Delhi government, said the state government has taken important steps, 450 COVID-19 crematorium facilities are there and over 5,000 ICU beds.

At this, Justice Bhushan said: "What is the mechanism to address all of this... you just collect the data from hospitals." Viswanathan replied that the Delhi Chief Secretary is working overtime and assured more information on measures taken will be provided to the top court.

The bench noted that senior advocate Gaurav Agrawal pointed out that in Himachal Pradesh, there are several issues like lack of oxygen, lack of beds etc.

"Issue notice to the state of Himachal Pradesh to file a status report regarding treatment of COVID-19 patients in different hospitals, infrastructure and facilities available therein," said the top court, as it fixed the matter for further hearing on December 9.

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