To restrain the further spread of covid-19 in Manipur, the Manipur High Court recently issued several directions to the state administration.
The Manipur High Court observed, ‘It is therefore not only for the state administration to be mindful and conscious of what is required of it at this time and to rise to the occasion but also for each and every citizen to do all that is with in his ken to arrest the spread of this virus.’
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition was filed by practicing advocate, assaulting the three orders of the Government of Manipur.
In the first order, the Government of Manipur declared the whole of Greater Imphal as a containment zone from May.7.2020 to May.16.2021. The government also imposed night curfew over other parts of the state.
In the second order, the government imposed Curfew in the district of Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Kakching, Churachandpur and ukhrul from May.8.2021 to May.17.2021. This order enumerated permitted activities in the curfew bounded areas.
In the last order, noting that complete closure of certain critical services had led to difficulty in the provision of government services or undue hardship to the public, the Government of Manipur had considered it appropriate to permit certain activities and services.
The matter was mentioned before the bench of chief justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Kh. Nobin Singh.
Court’s observation -:
In the beginning, the court observed that the measures taken by the way of those three orders didn't yield the desired result, as the covid-19 cases and related casualty continue to increase at an alarming rate.
The people living in curfew bounded areas and in other part of Manipur are facing many difficulties.
The court added, ‘The very fact that the government of Manipur came out with certain relaxation in its last order dated 11.5 2021 indicates that the public were being put to undue hardship. The order itself says as much.’
The court suggested, ‘Such aspects ought to have been taken into consideration by government at the time of imposition of the restriction but wisdom in that regard seems to have dawned only at later stage, leading to the last order of relaxation.’
The court directed the government to ensure that essential shops must be adequately stock with necessary products and goods including vegetables. So, as to meet the daily needs of the people.
In first order, the government curb the use of post office’s facilities by general public, even the dispatch of money orders were not allowed.
To this, the court stated that in the cash strapped times, people of Manipur and elsewhere help their friends and relatives living in other parts of the country by providing financial aid to them by sending the money orders.
‘Barring them from doing so, even though post office are allowed to remain open, cannot be countenanced,’ added the court.
The court directed the Manipur government to allow such transaction through post office, while strict following of covid-19 protocols, including social distancing, wearing of mask, this should be done under the strict monitoring of post office staff.
The Court directed the Manipur government to ensure that all the banks must have sufficient cash in their ATM installed at different location, so that people are not constrained to move from one ATM to another in search of cash.
The people who take drugs/medicines for a long-term medical conditions such as blood pressure, cholesterol may not have prescription from doctor right now, they may not be in position to produce a doctor’s prescription of recent origin, the court directed.
‘The government must therefore sanitize its ground staff, including the police, and ensure that such people are not subject to harassment when they go out to access pharmacies in their localities, further, it is contradiction in terms for the government to say that pharmacies are being kept open throughout the day and to view with suspicious every person who says that he is going to Pharmacy. The government and the police cannot subject genuine pharmacy goers to harassment merely on the ground that they have no doctors prescription or doctor’s prescription of recent origin.’
The pharmacies in the most affected area must be stocked with every kind of drug and medicine is using OTC drugs, so that customers do not have to move from one pharmacy to another in search of medicine or drug.
In the harsh times, where the nation is fighting with the second wave of covid-19, it is in cumbent upon every one of us should be mindful of the care and caution that has to be exercised to arrest the spread of virus i.e by staying home, shunning avoidable human contact and restricting physical human interaction to bare minimum.
The matter has now been postponed to further hearing on June 2.