Delhi High Court on Thursday said that it is now for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to take a call as to whether night curfew is required to be imposed in the city or some of its parts or other measures need to be adopted to contain COVID-19.
Delhi High Court asked GNCTD to take a decision on this aspect and implement the same without losing further time.
A division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad remark came on enquiring from the counsel for the GNCTD as to whether it is proposing to follow up the request made to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India for permission to close down certain markets and other places, on a case to case basis, it is submitted that the request in this regard is still pending at the end of the central government.
During the hearing, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government informed the Delhi High Court that there is no decision yet on imposing some kind of curfew, but it is under active consideration depending on the surge in COVID-19 infection.
The Delhi Government’s response came on Delhi High Court query on any planning to impose night curfews or weekend curfews similar like various other cities in the country due to rise in COVID -19 infection.
During the hearing, the court also sought from Advocate Anurag Ahulawalia, standing counsel for the centre, to obtain clear instructions from the Union of India.
After getting instructions from centre, he informed the court that in terms of the new guidelines for surveillance, containment and caution issued on November 25, by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, states and UTs can now impose local restrictions with a view to contain the spread of COVID-19 such as night curfew, on their own assessment of the situation though any imposition of a local lockdown outside the containment zones in state/district/sub-division/city level will require prior consultation with the central government.
The court asked GNCTD to file a fresh status report and listed the matter for further hearing on December 3.
Appearing for Delhi Government, Senior Advocate Sandeep Sethi and Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam apprised the court about the present situation in the national capital.
The arrangement for burial and cremation of those who have succumbed to COVID-19 infection is stated to be sufficient. The present capacity of the crematoriums in Delhi is 380 bodies per day and Senior Advocate appearing for GNCTD stated that the said capacity can be enhanced, if necessary.
The court agreed with the submission made by the petitioner and advocate Rakesh Malhotra, who stated that 6,562 lives in Delhi were lost to COVID-19 infection up to November 1, which if divided over eight months, would come to an average of 800 deaths per month whereas in the month of November 2020 alone that has still a few days left, the death rate has crossed 2,000, which itself is alarming. “Even if the mortality rate in Delhi due to the infection is lower than some other cities in India, that can hardly be a solace to those who have lost a near and dear one,” the court noted.
When GNCTD informed the court that they have collected 40,000 samples through RT-PCR testing, the court said that it has come after constant pushing and prodding by it and loss of several lives.
During the hearing, the court also sought to know availability of beds in COVID care centres and 33 private hospitals. It also took account of funeral arrangements in the national capital.
The court also directed GNCTD to take concrete steps to manage crowd in markets area of the national capital.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Rakesh Malhotra seeking directions to conduct large-scale rapid testing in the national capital for identifying the infected people.