High Court satisfied with measures taken by Govt for families of frontline Covid workers

J&K High Court has expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) for ensuring care to dependants of the frontline warriors of Covid19.

While hearing a batch of pleas on Covid19 including one on its own motion, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal appreciated the SWD for its efforts in ensuring care to the dependents of healthcare workers and others involved in the management of the pandemic crisis in J&K.

After going through the status report filed by the department, the court said it was heartening to note that extensive steps were taken by the Department for caring dependents of the Covid warriors. “Let the status report on this issue be brought on record by both the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh before the next date of hearing,” the court said.

In its report the SWD said that 5773 numbers of dependents of COVID 19 warriors were contacted, out of which 127 reported grievances and the same were addressed at the district level.

Subsequently, the report said, additional 8217 calls were made in different districts to dependents, out of which 204 reported grievances vis a vis need of medicine, ration, movement passes, personal protection kits (PPK) and transportation.

The report further said nodal officers at the district level in coordination with the line departments are providing all kind of necessary help to redress the grievances made by family member of COVID 19 warriors.

With regard to addressing issue of violence against Healthcare Professionals and Clinical Establishments -need for a legislative framework, the court took on record a status report by the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department.

The court however asked Amicus Curiae Monika Kohli to make all the reports filed on the issue available to Assistant Solicitor General of India Vishal Sharma for  the perusal of Union Government

With regard to its direction whether the Union Home Ministry was in receipt of complaints from any category of professionals other than the health workers suffering violence and seeking enactment of legislation on the issue, ASGI Sharma today sought a short adjournment.  The court asked him to file the report positively before the next date of hearing.

With regard to the impact of pollens from poplar trees on health, the court asked senior AAG Amit Gupta to file report of the committee which has examined the issue by the next date of hearing.

On the issue of e-Connectivity of Courts, advocate Ravinder Gupta on behalf of BSNL submitted that with regard to four court sites, there was some conflict and communications were addressed to NIC at Delhi.  The court ordered that copies of the communications be made available to Shahzad Azim, Registrar (IT) so that he can take up the matter with the concerned authorities. The Registrar (IT), the court said, shall file a response before the next date of hearing.

With regard to 10 sites for which VSAT facilities were needed, the BSNL reported to court that it has addressed a letter to the Department of Justice on 20 November 2019 and a response was awaited.

With regard to plight of cattle and stray animals, SMC in its status report through its senior standing counsel M Momin Khan said that the Corporation is running a Cattle Pond where stray cattle are immediately lifted and transported in specially designed vehicles to Municipal Cattle Pond at Tengpora.

Meanwhile, Dr Suhail Naik has filed a report in the Court on behalf of Doctors Association Kashmir.

In his report filed through Advocate Shuja ul Haq, Dr Naik said that cases of violence against healthcare personnel have come to fore but no action was taken by the Government to “deter people from creating unnecessary obstacles in the way of healthcare personnel to perform their duty in a fearless manner.”

According to the report there is a sense of fear among healthcare personnel.

“The issue of safety, care and wellbeing of the health workers has always lost attention of the government and because of this reason no specific law/legislation has been enacted at Central or State level for protection of these health workers against all kinds of acts of violence,’ the report said.

The report said public hospitals are overcrowded even as the private ones are too expensive for most of the citizens.

“The association believes that in absence of any specific law entailing severe punishment, the acts of violence towards doctors/health workers have been increasing day in and out and without any punishment to the perpetrators/culprits”.

“Most of the healthcare professionals are neither adequately appreciated nor protected, there are not enough personal protection equipment for the doctors and nurses at the time of COVID-19 pandemic,” the association said in the report.