HC orders strict action against persons hiding travel history

The High Court on Tuesday directed governments of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh to enforce stringently their orders and notifications on disclosure of travel history, quarantine and isolation to contain covid-19.

Hearing two PILs including one on its own motion, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal ordered that those violating the government orders on disclosure of travel history should be

strictly punished in accordance with law.

The bench heard the matter via video conference. It issued the directions after senior additional advocate general Amit Gupta at Jammu wing and additional advocate general Shah Aamir at Srinagar informed the court about the steps taken by the government to control the disease.

The court observed that judicial notice can be taken of several complaints being made in the electronic and the print media regarding the persons concealing their foreign travel history.

“Even though they are required to disclose their travel history, they are concealing it in order to escape the mandatory quarantine,” the bench observed.

Some of such persons, the court observed, have been found to be infected. “Huge public resources have been expended on tracking, not only these persons, but their several contacts during the period up to their detection,” the court said and directed the authorities of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh to enforce their notifications, instructions and orders regarding all disclosures including the travel history, quarantine and isolation stringently.

 “All authorities of the Union Territories shall take strict measures to ensure that all requirements are strictly enforced,” the court said, underling that violation of any government notification or breach should be strictly punished in accordance with law.

In another direction, the court ordered the Secretary PHE to ensure an equitable distribution of water to all residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. “Similar examination may be undertaken in the Union Territory of Ladakh as well.”

The court direction followed submissions by Monika Kohli, Amicus Curiae, that there was dire need of continuous availability of water in order to ensure the hygiene for prevention of the infection during the quarantine.

Kohli pointed out that the Public Health Engineering Department was responsible for the maintenance of the roster for water supplies in Union Territory. She submitted that the roster is extremely unequal and disproportionate to the requirement of the colonies and requires to be rationalized.

Meanwhile, Ashok Kumar Srivastava, Chief General Manager, BSNL J&K Telecom Circle, Jammu-12 was present in the court. He submitted a report, stating that video-conferencing through lease lines between the two Juvenile Justice Boards is the optimal solution.

“On this aspect, for want of approval of the financial estimates conveyed to the (mission director) ICPS, this matter was not proceeded with further. As per the report submitted by the BSNL, the estimates were conveyed to the Social Welfare Department on 15th November, 2018,” the court said, adding, “It cannot be denied that the BSNL would be the expert agency, whose opinion would bind the consideration by the authorities.

“It is also common knowledge that dependence on broadband connectivity for video-conferencing is not an optimal solution and the same is often jeopardised on account of connectivity issues.

“Srivastava also informed that he would have the estimate which was submitted on November 15 last year, re-examined and fresh estimates would be submitted to the Mission Director, ICPS within two days. Let the same be so done. The same would be examined at the earliest,” the court added. The court also directed that State Informatics Officer of the NIC, Jammu and Kashmir shall remain present in court on the next date keeping in view the issues regarding courts, JJBs and Observation Homes.