Deciding body (English)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Further areas addressed
- Use of protection devices
Outcome of the decision
The Court clubbed various Public Interest Litigations (PIL) pertaining to issues arising from the Covid-19 Pandemic such as the supply of oxygen, medicines and drugs, ventilators, non-reporting of Covid-19 deaths, preparedness for a possible third wave, the imposition of lock-downs or curfews etc. The case stated the various functions and measures taken by the state government and held that it would neither be possible nor advisable for the Court to embark upon the micromanagement of issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Court might interfere only where a case of executive inaction is identified in such matters.
Facts of the case
Through the se PILs the appellants raised several issues pertaining to the supply of oxygen, medicines and drugs, ventilators, non-reporting of Covid-19 deaths, preparedness for a possible third wave, the imposition of lock-downs or curfews and other related miscellaneous issues. The State government had categorically submitted its response to every issue raised by the petitioners and explained how the matter was being dealt with. Compliance of the Government with Standard Operations Procedures and directions issued by relevant certified bodies was shown in their support. On the basis of the response given the Court decided the case accordingly.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court held that it was neither possible nor advisable for it to embark upon some sort of micromanagement of the issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Court, quite reluctantly, was forced to interfere only where a case of executive inaction was identified in such matters. Once the Court is satisfied that the executive is responsive to the various concerns and issues raised and that the executive, through its team of experts, was addressing such issues, then, normally it is not for the Court to issue any specific directions concerning issues of the nature raised or highlighted by the Petitioners. This was further the case because the State Authorities had constituted an Expert Committee composed not only of Government Doctors/experts but also other Doctors/experts in the field to make recommendations on several issues arising in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, which was still raging. State Authorities also constituted a State Taskforce to make coordinated decisions on such issues.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court disposed of all Petitions, except the PIL Writ Petition 1172/2021 and made it clear that the lawyers appearing in the remaining Petitions would be at liberty to appear in the pending Petitions. The Court directed the state government, expert committee, and state task force to continue complying with directions. The Court also directed the State government to submit a response for handling the vaccination situation for persons with disabilities or senior citizens. The concerned authorities were therefore to act accordingly to ensure that all the minutes of the Expert Committee meetings, reflecting the deliberations, observations, and decisions are made available to the public domain at the earliest convenience. The report of the committee established by the state administration regarding the oxygen supply was also to be submitted.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
General principle applied
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
The Court stated that the matter was already pending before the Supreme Court of India, hence there was no reason to continue to hear the matter. Most importantly, it was neither possible nor advisable for the Court to embark upon some sort of micromanagement of the issues relating to the Covid -19 pandemic. Interference was required only where a case of executive inaction was identified in such matters.
The order made by the Honourable Supreme Court on April 30, 2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No. 3 of 2021 was, without any doubt, binding on the State Government and the State Government was duty-bound to comply with the same. The Honourable Supreme Court had, in terms, held that a buffer emergency stock of oxygen must be created so that if the supply chain to any one or more hospitals in an area for any reason is disrupted, the buffer or emergency stocks can be used to avoid loss of human life. These emergency stocks must be distributed so as to be easily accessible without delay in every local area. The Honourable Supreme Court, in fact, issued directions to the Central Government to act in collaboration with the States to prepare a buffer stock of oxygen to be used for emergency purposes to ensure that supply lines continue to function even in unforeseen circumstances.