Is the surge in Covid cases taking Gujarat towards a lockdown?
| Tuesday | 13th April, 2021
Last week, the HC had suggested imposing short lockdowns to curb rising Covid-19 cases. In response, advocate general Kamal Trivedi submitted that the lockdown in 2020 was mandated by the Centre.
Coronavirus continued its deadly march in the state as Gujarat reported a record 6,021 cases and highest ever 55 deaths on Monday. Earlier in the day, the state government made it clear before the Gujarat high court that it did not intend to impose another lockdown because it brings an “ocean of miseries” for the poor and migrant workers.
The bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia heard the state law officer’s submissions during suo motu PIL over Covid-19 health emergency in Gujarat and asked for other measures to curb surging Covid-19 cases.
The HC suggested that corporate offices be directed to cut staff strength or call employees on alternate days so that nothing stops and everything keeps working. “Everyone has to survive and require sustenance. Nobody has to be completely jobless or without earning,” the court said.
The HC also suggested steps like capping the number of guests at weddings to 50 instead of 100 allowed currently, limiting people attending funerals and banning gatherings.
Following court`s directives, CM Vijay Rupani announced in the evening that only 50 guests will be allowed in marriages, no public events till April and religious events will have to be celebrated at home only. He also said that only 50% workforce will be allowed in government and private offices and employees will come to office on alternate days.
Last week, the HC had suggested imposing short lockdowns to curb rising Covid-19 cases. In response, advocate general Kamal Trivedi submitted that the lockdown in 2020 was mandated by the Centre. Gujarat did not do it voluntarily. “We saw the aftermath of lockdown. There was an ocean of miseries among poor and migrant workers. There is a conscious decision from the central government that lockdown is not a solution. Lockdown, in fact, brings a problem of food, shelter for the poor and daily wagers.”
Earlier, the court pulled up the state government over Covid-19 situation in the state saying reality is contrary to what the government claims. “People now think that they are at God`s mercy,” the division bench said. There is a "trust deficit" among people. "People are cursing the government and the government is cursing the people. This will not help. We need to break this chain of infection," the HC observed.
During the hearing of suo motu PIL, the bench pulled up the state government over shortage of remdesivir injections and ordered it to make the stock available for all, the way paracetamol is available. The high court rejected the state government’s arguments over the shortage of remdesivir that doctors prescribe them indiscriminately.
The judges told the government law officer that there is no shortage of medicine and there is no requirement to control its supply and to make people suffer unnecessarily. The judges refused to get into the nitty-gritty of production and storage of the medicine and asserted, “We want results. That’s all.”
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