Do you want people to become sitting ducks? asks HC

Describing the affidavit filed by State government in COVID-19 related PIL petitions as “wishy and washy and disappointing”, Telangana High Court on Monday asked if it was contending for the post of COVID-19 positive topper in the country.

“We are very unhappy with your affidavit as it does not contain any of the details like measures to check footfall in cinema halls and other public gathering places,” a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy said. Expressing dissatisfaction with Advocate General B.S. Prasad’s reply that the State government geared up to tackle the situation, the bench passed over the matter to hear the pleas after lunch break.

When the AG said the government was following the Centre’s guidelines on COVID-19, the CJ corrected him stating that Centre had said the States can formulate their own instructions on the issue. “What are you going to make of the people of the State….sitting ducks..?” the CJ remarked.

The bench said the government was harping on checking international passengers but was “beautifully silent” on its measures controlling persons entering State through bus-stations, railway stations and through private vehicles. The CJ specifically wanted to know if the government had issued any circulars to check footfall at cinema halls, banquet halls, malls and public places witnessing large congregations of people. Noting that “it was a desperate situation and required desperate action by the State”, the CJ said “sorry for being tough but it question of life and death of people”.

Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy asked the AG if the government had any problem in restricting the number of people thronging pubs and bars. “Please state if the government wants to close them or not,” the judge said. The judge also sought the government’s response over hospitals not admitting persons, who tested positive for coronavirus, unless condition of the latter was critical.

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