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Delhi govt counsel says testing matter can be closed, HC asks why resist monitoring

The court, while mentioning the previous orders it had passed in the matter, stated it has been “constantly monitoring as to how the testing of Covid-19 infection is being conducted to ensure there is speedy and accurate detection of the infection and steps are taken to arrest its spread”.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | August 5, 2020 3:04:06 am
Marked difference between June and July: Fewer Covid-19 patients dying soon after admission The litigation is in the interest of Delhi’s citizens and is not adversarial: HC

The Delhi High Court Tuesday said “resistance of the Delhi government” to the court monitoring the progress made in ramping up testing was “incomprehensible”. The observations were made by a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad on a plea by advocate Rakesh Malhotra on the issue of ramping up Covid tests in the capital.

Additional standing counsel Satyakam informed the court about a common order passed by a coordinate bench of the High Court to urge that the issue being considered by the present court had attained finality and no further proceedings were needed. He said the court “may drop the present proceedings for the reason even on merits, it is apparent the Delhi government has made sincere efforts to bring down the infection in the city and ensure adequate testing kits are available”.

The court, however, declined to close the matter and examined a status report filed by Satyakam, which stated that the “Delhi government has neither discouraged nor inhibited the scope of the RT-PCR testing and has in fact conducted 5,24,481 RT-PCR tests till July 30, which works out to 27,604 RT-PCR tests per million (i.e. double of the national average of 13,647 tests per million)”.

The court, while mentioning the previous orders it had passed in the matter, stated it has been “constantly monitoring as to how the testing of Covid-19 infection is being conducted to ensure there is speedy and accurate detection of the infection and steps are taken to arrest its spread”.

“In the above background, the resistance of the Delhi government to this court monitoring the progress made in ramping up the testing is incomprehensible when admittedly, this is not an adversarial litigation and is purely in the interest of the citizens of Delhi that all government departments and agencies act in tandem and work collectively to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The technical plea taken by the GNCTD on the maintainability of an application in a disposed of matter would have engaged this court had it been a routine litigation between two private parties. This is not so here,” the court said.

The court also stated it is well settled that in public interest litigations, it can monitor steps taken by the respondents/authorities to ensure its directions are being implemented in letter and spirit: “The history of the instant case shows this court in the instant writ petition is monitoring steps taken by authorities for conducting tests to identify Covid-19 patients to ensure the pandemic does not spread.”

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