Directs strict implementation of Health Ministry guidelines
JAMMU, June 10: Division Bench of High Court comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul today hoped that the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will prepare itself in advance to face the possible third wave of COVID-19 and leave no stone unturned to vaccinate each and every citizen at the earliest by carrying out fresh institution-wise drive.
Hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the DB directed that the Government may also ensure establishment of oxygen generation plants in every Government and allied hospitals or at any other place deemed fit and proper. “At the same time temporary arrangements made so far may not be completely dismantled and may be kept in readiness for future”, the DB added.
Pointing towards Miscellaneous Application filed by Balvinder Singh through Advocate Dinesh Singh Chauhan, the DB observed, “Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued COVID-19 guidelines on dead body management, which provide for standard precautions to be followed by health care workers while handling dead bodies of COVID patients; the manner of removal of the dead body from the isolation centre; handling of the dead body in mortuary; transportation and cremation”.
“It inter alia provides that ordinarily autopsy on COVID-19 dead bodies is not necessary and for special reason if it is to be performed, the procedure prescribed has to be followed”, the DB said, adding “according to the guidelines, the dead body has to be carried to the cremation/ burial ground in a secured bag by the authorities for the performance of the last rites which shall ordinarily be in the presence of the relatives. Moreover, the guidelines provide for viewing of the face of the deceased by the relatives and performing of rituals except for touching of the body”.
“We are of the opinion that the religious sentiments of the family members have been sufficiently taken care of by the Government. It is to be borne in mind that the larger public interest always prevails over personal rights and the traditions and customs have to yield to the national interest especially in these unprecedented times”, the DB said with the directions to the authorities to strictly follow these guidelines and don’t cause any harassment to the next of kins of any person dying due to COVID-19 particularly with regard to viewing the face of the deceased and allowing them to perform the last rites in the manner laid down.
As per the last directions of the Division Bench, Advocate General DC Raina assisted by AAG Aseem Sawhney filed affidavit of Atal Dulloo, Financial Commissioner, Health & Medical Education Department comprehensively stating the actions taken by the Government in regard to COVID-19 pandemic in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
“The affidavit is quite comprehensive and takes care to inform the court about all arrangements that have been made by the Government to deal with the COVID crisis”, the DB said.
Pointing towards application moved by Advocates Mubeen Khan and Syed Zeeshan Hyder, the DB said, “Government has taken steps for having COVID management facilities in the entire Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir including Poonch as such it cannot be said that the facilities in district Poonch are lagging behind”, adding “in case the applicants feel that the facilities are inadequate or that doctors or the other medical staff are not available, they can bring these facts to the notice of the Advocate General through Advocate Monika Kohli, Amicus Curiae who will take up the matter, if necessary, with the Government”.
The DB didn’t find it imperative to consider the prayers vis-à-vis converting stadiums into vaccination centres and establishment of liquid oxygen plant in the Government Medical College Jammu and allied hospitals keeping in view the steps already taken by the Government.
While dealing with the application seeking permission to the private hospitals for administering COVID vaccine, DB asked the Advocate General to apprise the court on this aspect of the matter on the next date or may file an appropriate affidavit in this regard.