COVID-19 | ‘Enforce lockdown or court will order it’, Patna HC tells Bihar govt.


‘It is like complete failure, as infection seems to be unabated,’ said the Bench and sought the government’s decision on Tuesday.

Hitting hard on the Bihar government over the failure in controlling the COVID-19 situation, the Patna High Court has observed that the government should “enforce lockdown or the court will order it”.

“It is like complete failure, as infection seems to be unabated. The government seems to be gripped by a state of indecision,” observed the Division Bench of the court, comprising justices Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Mohit Kumar Shah, on Monday.

The court said that the State needed a complete lockdown and asked Advocate General Lalit Kishore to speak to the Chief Minister in this regard. “Either the State government declares a lockdown or the court will have to pass an appropriate order,” the court said in an oral observation while directing Mr. Kishore to inform the government’s decision on Tuesday.

The court’s observation came after the director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), Patna, which is marked as a COVID-19 hospital by the government, had said that it had only 200 beds available, including 60 Intensive Care Unit beds, and it could not admit more patients due to irregular and short supply of oxygen and lack of manpower as well.

The Bench has been hearing a bunch of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions on the pandemic for nearly three weeks and been passing observations to the State government from time to time.

‘Everything is an eyewash’

“We had directed the State government to prepare a comprehensive action plan for COVID-19 management on April 15 and since then we’ve been reiterating during every hearing on the PILs of the pandemic but to no avail”, observed the court while adding, “there is no action plan with you. Whatever plan you’ve submitted is not up to the mark and no effective steps has been taken since April 15. Everything is an eyewash”.

“You [the State government] are handicapped and banking just on the health department authorities who are submitting farce reports”. “There is no advisory committee of experts yet with the State government even after it had ordered to form one earlier,” the court observed.

The Bench also took note of the black marketeering of essential drugs and oxygen.

Earlier, while expressing displeasure over the State government’s lack of preparation in tackling the second wave of the infection, the High Court had advertised its email address for people to lodge their requirements and complaints.

On Monday, the Bihar chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and heads of four government hospitals in Patna too had urged the government to impose a 15-day lockdown.

“The medical experts view must be taken into consideration. IMA, Bihar chapter, urges government to impose 15 days lockdown in the State to curb the surge of COVID-19”, Ajay Kumar, vice-president of the IMA, Bihar chapter, said.

Earlier some Opposition leaders too had demanded a lockdown “to break the chain of the surge of COVID-19”.

Nitish to hold meeting

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with top officials visited parts of Patna on Monday to take stock of the restrictions followed by common people and the administrative officials as well.

He is expected to hold meetings with members of the crisis management group on Tuesday to take a decision on imposing a lockdown.

Sources in the government told The Hindu that the State government might mull over a weekend or complete lockdown in the meeting.

Facing an acute shortage of oxygen, beds, anti-viral drugs and manpower in hospitals, Bihar’s active cases on Monday stood at 1,07,667 and positive cases tally at 5,09,047. As many as 2,821 deaths have been reported so far and the recovery rate is 78.29% .

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