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HC to Odisha govt: Submit Covid death toll report

On June 18, a PIL was filed seeking HC's intervention to direct the state government to conduct an audit into the Covid-related deaths in the state.

By: Express News Service | Bhubaneswar |
June 26, 2021 4:05:42 am
The petitioner, lawyer Nishikant Mishra, had attached documents of deaths in Nayagarh reported by the chief district medical officer (CDMO) and the state government's Covid-19 portal.

The Orissa High Court has asked the state government to submit by July 5, a preliminary report on the total number of Covid-related deaths reported in the state.

On June 18, a PIL was filed seeking HC’s intervention to direct the state government to conduct an audit into the Covid-related deaths in the state. The plea was however rejected after the HC found discrepancies in it. But considering the matter and taking cognizance of attached documents, the HC issued orders to the state government.

“The issue regarding possible undercounting of Covid-19 deaths in Odisha, which the petitioner sought to highlight, is a serious one. However, the court has reservations about the manner in which the petitioner has prepared the petition in haste, based on sketchy facts gleaned essentially from press reports,” the two-judge bench observed.

The petitioner, lawyer Nishikant Mishra, had attached documents of deaths in Nayagarh reported by the chief district medical officer (CDMO) and the state government’s Covid-19 portal. The High Court had noticed inconsistencies in the numbers. The figures suggested that 97 people had died due to Covid-19 during the second wave in Nayagarh as per the CDMO’s report, while the state Covid dashboard reported only 14 deaths in the district.

The two-judge bench of chief justice S Muralidhar and justice SK Panigrahi said, “The AG will inform the court on 5th July, 2021 whether the issue of undercounting of Covid-19 deaths has been enquired into by the additional chief secretary, health… The district wise breakdown of the deaths must be placed before the court on the next date of hearing.”

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