The Allahabad High Court has ordered Uttar Pradesh CM to report to a judicial officer every day regarding all deaths due to the Covid by stating that it is an “open secret”.
This order from the High court that noted the “chaotic situation” in UP’s big cities suggested that the state is under-testing and failing to learn the true number of cases and deaths due to the disease.
CM Yogi Adityanath has stood on his ground to the fact that there is no shortage of oxygen, medicines, or hospital beds in the state, and that the situation is under control but this claim has been questioned by the High Court and news reports from around Uttar Pradesh. This mismatch between official death figures reported by the state and those from the crematoriums in cities like Lucknow.
Nevertheless, CM Yogi Adityanath has asked officials to take action against those “spreading rumors” on this situation in UP and “spoiling the atmosphere”. According to The Hindu, on April 25 that the CM wanted such people to be booked under the barbaric law National Security Act and their property seized.
The state government had become complacent with the drop in the Covid-19 infections by the end of 2020 and focused more on other areas such as conducting panchayat elections; Allahabad High Court remarked after hearing a batch of PIL petitions on Tuesday.
The court added: “Had it been constantly vigilant, it would have prepared itself to face the onslaught of the pandemic in its second wave. Posterity would never forgive us if we remain oblivious to the real public health issues and let the people die for want of adequate health care”
But the court did not suspend or revoke the panchayat elections, though it did send a notice to the state election commission following reports that 135 teachers, teaching assistants, and others assigned to poll duty have died as a result of Covid-19.
Court added that “those in power must shun the attitude of ‘my Way or no Way’ and should welcome suggestions from all the quarters”.
High Court had ordered lockdowns to be imposed in five major cities in UP. However, Supreme Court the next day stayed this order as a response to the UP government’s appeal. Meanwhile, the UP government had imposed weekend lockdowns.
On Tuesday, the court remarking on this measure said: “As the government in its wisdom has resolved to only two days weekend lockdown to break the chain and has further proceeded with some measures as a sequel to that but mere fact that the number of positive cases as having been shown to have been reduced a little in numbers due two weekend lockdown days, nothing remarkable seems to have been achieved on the front of public health care to the satisfaction of the people.”
As a matter of shame, one of the important problems that emerged for discussion during the proceedings on Tuesday was the shortage of oxygen. Private hospitals are facing the problem of oxygen shortage, which was asking patients to bring their oxygen cylinders if they want to get admitted. People had to queue for the oxygen cylinders to get refilled for almost 12 hours even as they faced harassment from local officials.
In response to these submissions, the High court said: “This [supply of oxygen] should be ensured at all cost so that no one should die for want of oxygen. If even after seven decades of our attaining freedom with so many heavy industries set up, we are not able to provide oxygen to our citizens, it’s a matter of shame. We further direct that despite rules regulations framed for transporting and disposal of industrial oxygen, it should be immediately diverted to the use of people making Medical Oxygen, and its immediate uninterrupted supply for the said purpose be ensured.
The High court added that the government had come up with plans at a “late-stage”.
In an important direction, the court said the UP government has to report the number of deaths due to Covid-19 in both public and private hospitals to a judicial officer appointed by the district judge in each district.
Further, the court said all such deaths should be first recorded in the register and then forwarded to the municipal body concerned by the officer in charge of the police station under which each crematorium falls.