Skip to main content

Covid mismanagement? Modi govt in 'denial mode' even as 10 High Courts sound alert

By Haider Abbas* 

It has always been found that whenever there is a government of brute majority, the executive succumbs and the tremors very often reach the judiciary. There have been countless examples of this over the last 70 years, notwithstanding the Keshavananda Bharti case. But, with the outbreak of Covid-19, the Modi government as also several State governments, mainly those under BJP, have had a share of a ‘rap-on-the-knuckles’ by their respective courts.
Did not we hear the Jordan health minister abdicating his office after oxygen supply had ran out and the Iraqi health minister tendering his resignation after the hospital fire? Can we expect any such morality here? People are dying in ‘thousands-a-day’ while the Modi government is busy into image boosting. A recent “Lancet” editorial speaks as to how Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in early March, declared that India was in the endgame of the epidemic.
As many as 10 High Courts have come forward and rapped up the Modi government, something that has never happened in India before. The Allahabad High Court (HC) on May 4 observed, "We are at pain in observing that death of Covid patients just for non supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen."
After the death of eight patients in a Delhi hospital, a visibly shaken Delhi HC on May 1 issued a strict direction to the Central government to ensure that Delhi receives the allocated quantity of 490 MT oxygen today itself by whatever means.” Three days later, the Delhi HC division bench comprising Justices Vikram Sanghi and Rekha Palli, on the prevalent callousness, asked the Modi government, "Are you living in ivory towers? Where are you living? What you're saying is that because the Delhi government didn't raise the demand people should be allowed to die now? Is this what it's come to? You want to quibble while people are losing lives?"
The Supreme Court had already, on April 30, directed the Modi government to rectify the oxygen deficit in Delhi NCT on or before the May 3.
In Karnataka the pitiable condition is also the same as in Chamarajanagar Hospital 24 patients died due to lack of oxygen supply, which prompted the state’s HC division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar on May 5 to tell the Modi government, that “even (the) required quantities of oxygen are not being allotted by the Centre to the State amidst the Covid-19 crisis. Perhaps, if buffer stock of oxygen was there, the Chamarajanagar incident would not have happened.” It ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of 24 patients. It sought to know from Central government if it wanted people to die.
On May 5, the Madhya Pradesh HC division bench consisting of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Atul Sreedharan directed the State government to file a "complete action plan for vaccination of both age groups and sought for stern action against black-marketers”. The court had earlier on May 2 observed that the “ground situation of oxygen supply (was) totally different from claims”, insisting, the state government should “ensure regular and continuous supply of oxygen to all the citizens admitted anywhere either in government or private facilities”. There were around 74 deaths in the month of April in the state due to lack of oxygen.
The Madras HC division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy took a suo-motu on April 22, on reports of Remdesivir diversion, oxygen supply. It said, it is only endeavouring to ensure that the State is on the top of things so that the crisis unfolding in other States does not take place in Tamil Nadu. It had directed the Modi government to take immediate steps so that the State gets adequate supply of oxygen.
The Patna HC division bench, on May 5 comprising of Justices Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Mohit Kumar Shah, was so anguished over the inept handling of the situation by the BJP-supported Nitish Kumar government, which already had led to death of hundreds of people in the last fortnight, that it suggested the government should hand over health services to the Armed Forces Medical Services.
The Jharkhand HC division bench, comprising of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad took to a suo-moto notice on April 28 on the State government's preparedness to deal with Covid emergency and called it a "serious issue of concern". It remarked this amidst Drug Controller submission that Remdesivir injections and Favipiravir tablets were being made available to top medical shops, even as people were not getting them. This remark by the Jharkhand HC came days after it had observed that the State was heading towards a health emergency and that the non-availability of a CT scan machines was a matter of serious concern.
The Patna High Court went so far as to suggest the government should hand over health services to the Armed Forces Medical Services
The BJP government in Uttarakhand is so insensitive towards people that the district magistrate office of Dehradun gave wrong phone numbers of oxygen suppliers on the portal. Chief Justice RS Chauhan had to order a hearing of a PIL on the grave omission on April 29.
The Chhattisgarh HC division bench of Chief Justice PR Ramachandra Menon and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu, on April 26, took a suo moto cognizance of the matter related to the second wave of the pandemic and the inadequacy in medical infrastructure to tackle the same. It directed the State government "to convene a meeting of all concerned to take stock of the situation as to the Oxygen supply/availability as on date and the imminent future requirement. Prudent steps shall be taken forthwith to ensure that no patient loses life in this State, for cessation of supply of Oxygen."
On May 6, when the Gujarat HC division bench comprising of Chief justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia lambasted the BJP government, observing, ‘Night curfew in Gujarat to curb Covid spread is not enough.” The court also noted the State government’s May 3 affidavit was “lacking in various points and directions” that was given to it by the HC in an order dated April 27.
In the wake of such unprecedented affairs when court after court took state governments to task, the Modi government remained in an absolute denial mode. Meanwhile, there was a slugfest between Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and the BJP after the former told Modi in a telephonic conversation that instead of ‘Mann ki Baat’ the PM should speak ‘Kaam Ki Baat’. Modi, apparently, could not refer to the problems faced by Jharkhand for want of adequate supply of medicines and equipment to fight Covid-19!
No wonder, finally, the Supreme Court division bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah ordered on May 6 the formation of a 12-member National Task Force for “effective and transparent mechanism” for allocating medical oxygen to all states and UTs. The Union government agreed to set it up to streamline the process.
---
*Former UP State Information Commissioner, political analyst

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Protesters demand release of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, seek review of SC order

By Our Representative  Protests broke out across India on June 27 following Teesta Setalvad’s arrest demanding her immediate release. Sabrang India , a site run by Setalvad, claimed she was “arrested on trumped-up charges after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition moved by Zakia Jafri demanding an investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat violence.” The protesters also demanded release of former DGP Gujarat police RB Sreekumar, also arrested simultaneously. The protests were preceded by over 2,200 people from across the globe signing a statement demanding their immediate release. Leading signatories such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) convenor Medha Patkar, former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas. “The state has used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicit

Electoral bonds scheme 'compromises' voluntary nature PM relief fund donations

By Rosamma Thomas*  The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is meant to collect voluntary donations from the general public, either individuals or organizations, to enable assistance to people in times of natural disaster, or for expensive medical treatment. That fundamental voluntary character of the fund, however, has changed in recent years.  The gazette notification of January 2018 announcing the Electoral Bond scheme states, in Clause 12 (2): “The amount of bonds not encashed within the validity period of fifteen days shall be deposited by the authorized bank to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”. The Union government has, thus, through notification, directed funds to be deposited into what was meant to be purely voluntary. Commodore Lokesh Batra, who has been campaigning for transparency in government functioning, holds that once a gazette notification has been issued directing that funds be deposited into the PMNRF, the character of the whole fund has changed,

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization

Majoritarian silence helping Hindutva forces 'handover' national resources to corporates

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The majority of Indian citizens are witnessing the persecution and everyday violence against their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities. The growing assaults on reason, science, secularism, Indian democracy and constitution are going to be landmarks in Indian history of diminishing democracy and citizenship rights. It is clear that Hindutva ideology is directly promoting sectarian politics of hate which is dangerous for the unity and integrity of India, peace and prosperity of Indians. The majoritarian silence helps in empowering Hindutva and their electoral dividends. From witnessing the persecution in the sidelines to the active participation and cheering loud or silence accelerates violence against our neighbours and our fellow citizens. How and why do majority of Indians stay silent and contribute to the persecution of their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities? The question baffles me as an Indian because I have gr

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

Cops 'refuse to register' complaint after BSF shot landless worker off Bangla border

By Our Representative  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), in a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), referring to the incident of “firing and execution” of a poor Muslim youth, has alleged that the 26 year old was was shot at “without giving any warning” one and half kilometers inside the Indian territory from Bangladesh border by an on- duty Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. Stating that the person, Ruhul Mondal, belonged to an Other Backward Class (OBC), and hailed from Ramnarayan Para village under Sagarpara police station in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Roy in his representation said, the BSF person who shot at him is “attached with Singpara Border Outpost, 141 Battalion”, underlining, the BSF has now floated “self defense theory” to cover up its operation. According to the BSF officials, the incident took place in the jute fields in