The Gujarat High Court recently observed that criticism of the government will not help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and called for collaborative efforts between the government and the opposition.
These observations from the Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala came after another Bench headed by the latter judge had pulled up the state government over the handling of the pandemic and the health facilities at government hospitals, particularly the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.
Bench observed that the Court’s previous orders which had directed the state government to take a number of steps regarding health and medical facilities, migrant workers, as well as prisoners were becoming the subject of debates and adverse comments against the government on social media and other platforms.
The Court expressed its anguish over the same, and said that the orders had been passed in larger public interest during covid pandemic . It also stated that its orders were being taken by the state government very seriously.
The court said highlighting covid situation,
All that we are doing is to remind the State Government of its constitutional obligations and the directive policies of the State. In such circumstances, we expect the State Government to accept our orders passed in the Public Interest in the right spirit bearing in mind the paramount consideration of the health and well being of the people…All good work that the Government would do will surely be appreciated and hailed. If we find any remiss, negligence or carelessness, we shall come down heavily…We would like to observe that the State Government has taken up this litigation in Public Interest very seriously. All that is now required is to remain vigilant, careful and active.”
The Court went on highlight the role of the opposition during the covid pandemic.
“In these extraordinary circumstances, the role of the opposition is equally important. There is no denying that the role of the opposition is to hold the government to account, but in times like this a helping hand would be more beneficial than a critical tongue.”
The Court requested everyone to be careful before commenting or debating on Court orders regarding covid .
“We request one and all to be very careful from now onwards before commenting or entering into any debate with regard to Court orders that are being passed from time to time in Public Interest. Our message is loud and clear. We need not further elaborate on this issue. All those who cannot extend their helping hand in this difficult times and do anything good for the people at large have no right to criticize the functioning of the State Government. If the State Government would not have been doing anything, as alleged, then probably, by now, we all would have been dead. All that we are doing in this litigation is to keep the State Government conscious and active by reminding its constitutional and statutory obligations.”
The Court said highlighting covid pandemic:
“We, thus, direct that all necessary medical protocols, as are laid down, for different categories of patients, should strictly be adhered to so that no life is lost because of any kind of negligence or nonattendant. We further direct that all precautionary measures are also strictly adhered to for the doctors and all other staff as observed above.”
The Court also noted that the Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognizance on the issue of migrant workers and therefore, it did not pass any orders the subject.
Read the petition here: