The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to hear a plea seeking directions for the imposition of a substantial lockdown in the national capital with immediate effect in view of the rising COVID-19 cases and air pollution.
The plea also sought directions to the Delhi Government and other respondents to conduct a comprehensive evaluation and review of the lockdown situation every 10 days and take a considered decision on restrictions and/or relaxations.
"Is the lockdown an only solution? Will the policy matter of the government be decided by the court?" a division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the petitioner.
The High Court was apprised by the counsel appearing for the Delhi government that according to Centre notification date September 30, no state has the power to impose lockdown without the central government's permission.
It also noted that the petition did not even make the Union of India a party to the petition. Later, the petitioner decided to withdraw the petition.
The plea, filed by Kaushal Kant Mishra, a senior Orthopedic surgeon, said that air pollution in Delhi has severely worsened in the past few days due to a dip in temperatures and rising air pollution. Global research shows an emerging scientific consensus on the causal link between air pollution and the morbidity as well as mortality associated with COVID-19, it added.
The plea said that global research shows an emerging scientific consensus on the causal link between a lockdown and significant improvement in air quality.
"Experts have stated that the number of cases will keep increasing for at least two weeks after Diwali and the figures released by the Delhi Government itself have stated that the peak of the 'third wave' of COVID-19 in Delhi will reach in the last week of November or the first week of December," the plea said.
According to the petition, healthcare workers in NCT of Delhi are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 with thousands already having tested positive, and the State's apathy towards the doctors by continuing their exposure to ever-increasing COVID-19 patients directly infringes the right to life and health of these healthcare workers under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Plea also mentioned that recognizing the risks associated with COVID-19 and air pollution and taking note of the depleting facilities in hospitals, experts have called for a lockdown to be imposed.
The lethal combination of air pollution and COVID-19 directly infringes the right to life and health of the residents of the NCT of Delhi under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The State has a positive obligation to take steps to protect and advance the right to life and health under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which obligation the Respondents herein have miserably failed to discharge," the plea said.
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