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    Published On : Mon, Jun 1st, 2020

    HC directs state to test all frontline health workers in Vidarbha, finds NMC’s stand ridiculous


    BOMBAY HIGH COURT DIRECTS STATE GOVERNMENT TO TEST ALL FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS IN VIDARBHA TO CONDUCT RT-PCR TEST FOR COVID-19


    AND EXPRESS CONCERN FOR “FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS”


    HIGH COURT DIRECTS ICMR TO FRAME GUIDELINES FOR PERIODIC TESTING OF FRONTLINE WORKERS IN VIDARBHA IN SEVEN DAYS


    HIGH COURT FINDS STAND OF NMC AS RIDICULOUS AND CONTEMPTIOUS OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS U/A 21


    Nagpur: In a landmark judgment Hon’ble High Court comprising of Justice Ravi Deshpande and Justice Amit Borkar has directed the state government to conduct “RT-PCR TEST” of frontline warriors {including doctors, nurses, pharmacist, policemen} working in entire Vidarbha with immediate effect. The High Court has also directed the ICMR to frame guidelines for periodic check up of “frontline warriors” in Vidarbha Region within next seven days.

    Earlier Hon’ble Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench comprising of Justice ROHIT DEO asked State Government of Maharashtra, Union Government of India through Ministry of Health, ICMR, New Delhi to show respect for front line warriors and health workers who are fighting against covid19, on a writ petition filed by Citizens Forum for Equality, {registered NGO} at Nagpur through its President Madhukar Ganpat Kukde, seeking certain directions to immediately start the RT-PCR Test for all doctors, Nurses, Paramedical Staff, Police Persons, Pharmacist attending Covid-19 patients in war against disease.

    The counsel for the petitioner Adv. Dr. Tushar Mandlekar argued that all these “frontline health workers” are facing threat of their life while attending the national duty to fight Covid-19 war and are not even tested even after two months of this “war against disease”

    The petitioner is advocating the cause of “right to life” to all these FHW and seeking immediate directions to further frame policy for their periodic testing.He argued that in Bombay 64 Police Persons were found to have been Covid-19 Positive even when they are “asymptomatic” persons as they were doing their national duty on the day of filing petition, and today more than 1200 policemen are infected by covid19.

    The petitioner argued that State Governments must immediately start “RT-PCR” test of these front line health workers and Police Personals. ICMR has only framed strategy for “symptomatic FLW’s” for testing and presently “Asymptomatic FLW’s” are not tested as per its advisory dated 04-04-2020 and 18-05-2020and these strategy must be changed.

    It was argued by state government counsel that no policy is framed for frontline health workers and police personals for testing. The Municipal Commissioner has filed affidavit on his behalf and resisted the testing of frontline health workers on three grounds. The NMC stated on affidavit that these Health Workers carry their job with protection and hence there is no threat to them. It also stated that if orders to test front line health workers is given then there will be huge burden on state exchequer. It further stated there is no express policy of ICMR to test them. The High Court slammed the stand taken by NMC and held that this stand is ridiculous and contemptuous of fundamental rights of citizens u/a 21 of Constitution of India.

    The High Court relied upon two landmark judgments of Supreme Court
    i) State of Punkab Vs Ram Bagga -1998-4-SCC-117
    ii) NavtejsinghJohar Vs Union of India -2018-10-SCC-1
    It was held that right to health and health care is the faceit of right to life under article 21 of Constitution of India. The HC held that it is the duty of the state to protect the “frontline warriors” and test them u/a 47 of Constitution of India.

    The High Court also held that covid-19 disease is both “symptomatic and asymptomatic” and hence asymptomatic frontline health workers cannot be deprived of the RT-PCR test. The High Court has found substance in the arguments of petitioner and allowed the main prayer of petition.

    The HC held that life of frontline workers is more precious because they are warriors and saviours, compromising their life at state to save the lives of others by relentlessly working on a call for duty. We can not afford to loose them. The state is duty bound to save them.

    Adv. Dr. Tushar Mandlekar argued for petitioner Citizens Forum for Equality, Nagpur. Assistant Solicitor General of India Adv. Ulhas Aurangabadkar argued for ICMR and Union of India. Adv. Sumant Deopujari argued for State Government and Adv. Sudhir Puranik argued for Nagpur Municipal Corporation.

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