The Patna High Court on Monday warned state government officials of proceedings against them after it found discrepancies in affidavits on deaths of Covid-19 patients, The Hindu reported.
While hearing a suo motu petition on Covid-19 management in the state, a bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and S Kumar spotted inconsistencies in the toll reported for Buxar district by Bihar’s chief secretary and the Patna divisional commissioner.
The chief secretary submitted that only six deaths due to Covid had taken place in Buxar since March 1, while the divisional commissioner’s affidavit mentioned 789 cremations at just one cremation ground of the district between May 5 and May 14.
“All facts first must be verified from all sources and then only placed before us, else it will amount to filing of false or incomplete affidavit,” the court noted, according to Live Law. It also asked the state government to file a fresh affidavit with verified figures within two days.
Last week, the court had directed authorities in Buxar and Kaimur district to file an affidavit after bodies were found floating in the Ganga river. Thousands of corpses were found either floating in the Ganga or buried along river banks in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. On May 10, bodies found in the Ganga in Buxar district of Bihar had caused panic among the residents. Various reports put the number of bodies from 10 to 150.
On Monday, the court also pulled up the authorities for not including details of the deceased, including information on whether they were coronavirus patients.
“Even the chief secretary’s affidavit does not say that all the six deaths have taken place due to Covid-19, neither the Commissioner’s affidavit mentioned that 789 deaths are non-Covid deaths,” the court said. “There is also no mention of age and religion of those who have died. People from other religion too must have died and last rites may also have been performed at burial grounds.”
The court said it was important to know the age group of those who have died as it was a matter of concern if young people were dying. It directed the officials to ensure that the toll is updated on the state’s official website for Covid-19 management.
“We see no reason as to why the deaths, be it six or 789, would not have been updated on the official website,” the court said. “Equally, this would apply to all the districts of Bihar.”