The Telangana High Court on Monday gave 48-hour ultimatum to the state government to decide whether it will impose a lockdown to contain the rise in Covid-19 cases, NDTV reported. The court warned that it will issue orders on its own if the state authorities do not take a decision within two days.
India is reeling under an unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and almost all states have been reporting a sharp surge in infections. Telangana on Monday registered 4,009 cases and 14 deaths in 24 hours on Monday – pushing the state’s tally of infections over 3.55 lakh, and the toll to 1,838.
During the hearing, the Telangana High Court rebuked the state administration for its handling of the crisis, saying that the state government’s affidavit in coronavirus-related petitions was “wishy-washy and disappointing”, The Hindu reported.
“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 places,” a Bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy said.
The court also criticised the state government and asked whether it was vying for the position of “Covid topper” in the country. “What are you going to make of the people of the state...sitting ducks?” Justice Kohli asked.
When Advocate General BS Prasad, appearing for the Telangana government, said the state administration was following the Centre’s Covid-19 guidelines, the court reminded him that the Union government had empowered the states to take decisions to tackle the surge in infections.
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“A desperate situation requires desperate action by the state,” the court said. It also sought to know if the state government had issued any circulars to check the footfall at cinema theatres, banquet halls, malls and other public places, where a large number of residents gather.
“Sorry for being tough, but it is a question of life and death of people,” the court said.
The Telangana High Court also pulled up authorities for not imposing restrictions uniformly across the state. It said the government was harping on checking international passengers but was “beautifully silent” on its measures to control persons entering the state through bus, railway stations and private vehicles, reported The Hindu.
Justice Reddy also asked if the state government had any problem in restricting the number of people allowed in pubs and bars, adding: “Please state if the government wants to close them or not.”
The judge also sought the state government’s response on reports of hospitals not admitting Covid-19 patients who were not in a critical condition. The court asked the government for “ward-wise data” on Covid-19 cases in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. It also asked for RT-PCR reports within 24 hours.
The government has been given time till Friday to file its response.