Mumbai News

Bombay HC warns action against negligent officials for shirking responsibility during pandemic – The Indian Express

Written by Omkar Gokhale
| Mumbai |

Updated: July 8, 2020 3:32:01 pm

At a private doctor’s clinic in Dharavi in Mumbai (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

The Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court slammed the authorities for negligence and said the system can be cleaned after taking criminal action against them for shirking their responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bench led by Justice Nalawade observed, “This is really a testing time. Public servants will be tested and it can be ascertained as to whether they are sincere and they have devotion to the duty. If to save their own lives and to save skin they are shirking responsibility, then it can be presumed that there is no use of them in the system, and after taking criminal action against them they can be removed and this way the system can be cleaned. This court is looking at the present situation that way and this Court intends to take such action against all those public servants who are passing the buck and who are shirking the responsibility.”

The court was hearing a suo moto PIL raising concerns over spike in Covid-19 cases and lack of coordination between various authorities in the Aurangabad region.

On July 3, expressing dissatisfaction over lack of coordination between authorities and concerned over the ‘alarming situation’ in the district, a division bench of Justices Tanaji V Nalawade and Shrikant D Kulkarni said that it may visit Covid-19 quarantine facilities and hospitals to see whether discipline was being maintained. It further said the bench may give directions to register a case against those not discharging their duties regardless of their ranks.

Public prosecutor D R Kale had told the court that action was being taken against public servants and submitted a compilation of details as sought by the court. Senior Counsel Rajendra S Deshmukh, who was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the Court, also submitted that there was still no discipline among public servants and many in the Covid-19 control programme were absent on duty. The court had sought further responses from the authorities on actions taken against errant officials.

On Tuesday, Kale submitted that Aurangabad city will undergo a strict 9-day lockdown from July 10 and all necessary steps will be taken to break the chain of coronavirus spread. After perusing records submitted by the District Superintendents of the Police, the court noted that show-cause notices were issued to the private hospitals but their replies were not produced.

The court said that during the lockdown, the number of Covid-19 positive cases is bound to increase with contact tracing and more beds for patients will be required. It said, “In view of that possibility, the authorities are expected to take further criminal action against those hospitals not complying with the orders, as only after that the beds will be available for patients.”

Thereafter, HC passed several directions pertaining to the availability of Covid-19 beds, testing labs, and spread in rural areas among others.

Seeking responses from authorities, the Court posted the PIL for further hearing to July 21.

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