Updated: February 25, 2021 1:21:00 am
The Delhi High Court Wednesday allowed a family of four, who had returned from the UK and were put in institutional quarantine despite testing negative for coronavirus, to remain in home quarantine.
The court also asked the Delhi government to provide clear instructions to airport authorities on the travel guidelines and SOP applicable, so that they can be displayed prominently on its website within 48 hours.
The HC was hearing a petition seeking release of the four persons, including two children. The family in their plea described the institutional quarantine as “illegal confinement” and sought compensation from authorities.
Justice Prathiba M Singh in the order said that the permission for home quarantine is granted as an “exceptional circumstance” as the petitioners include two children who are aged 3 and 6 years.
A counsel representing the Delhi government earlier told the court they were quarantined in accordance with an order of Delhi Disaster Management Authority dated January 29 which is based on an SOP issued by the MHA on January 1. However, the court said there is no clarity regarding the current position and whether the MHA circular is still in operation.
According to their plea, the four petitioners arrived from England on February 20 and were quarantined at Hotel Vivanta. Their counsel Ganesh Chand Sharma on Tuesday told the court that the UK passenger guidelines on the Delhi airport website say institutional quarantine is not mandatory for all passengers, but only for those who test positive for coronavirus. All four passengers tested negative on February 20, the court was told.
In the petition, it was also alleged that a total of Rs 3,200 was charged from them for the Covid-19 tests at IGI airport, and they were also forced to take Plaza Premium Lounge for a total of Rs 10,400.
“The respondents, by charging Rs 2,600 (per head) in lieu of the waiting period of the Covid-19 test conducted at IGI Airport, are commercialising the Covid-19 pandemic and making a mockery of the statement of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India that ‘Apada ko Awasar Banana’ by taking money from the pocket of innocent passengers without giving them any other option to stay till the result of Covid-19 test,” the family said in the petition.
The family, who are permanent residents of England, also sought a direction that the authorities be asked to bear the entire expenditure incurred by them “in the forced exercise played upon” them, right from the stay at the airport lounge to their stay at the hotel.
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