Deciding body (English)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Outcome of the decision
A medical professional filed this Public Interest Litigation (PIL) requesting for various orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, for all Health Workers treating patients with COVID-19 in India, including in metro cities and Tier-2 and 3 cities. Additionally, security was requested for doctors and other paramedical professionals.
The Court an order stating that the salary of medical professionals would not be deducted, and that the guidelines be implemented as suggested by the WHO and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Special attention was given to ensuring the safety of the health care workers considering the reports of attacks on doctors while performing their duties.
Facts of the case
This is a PIL filed by a medical professional praying for various orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To combat COVID-19, the first line of defense in battling such a pandemic are the doctors and the medical staff who are the most likely to become infected, while protecting others from it.
The World Health Organization issued guidelines on February 27, 2020 for the rational use of personal protective equipment for COVID-19. The guidelines contained recommendations regarding the type of personal protective equipment to be used in the context of COVID-19 for health care workers, doctors and others. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Directorate General of Health Services issued guidelines dated March 24, 2020, related to the “Rational use of Personal Protective Equipment”. The Petitioner prays that the Responded be ordered to ensure that the guidelines issued by the WHO and the guidelines dated March 24, 2020 issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare be implemented and Respondents be ordered to ensure the availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, including sterile medical and nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shields, respirators (i.e. N-95 Respirator Mask or Triple Layer Medical Mask or equivalent), shoe covers, head covers and coveralls and gowns to all Health Workers including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals actively attending to, and treating patients suffering from COVID-19 in India, including metro cities and Tier-2 and 3 cities. An order was also sought for providing security to doctors and other paramedical professionals.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
- Requested orders to ensure that guidelines issued by the WHO and issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare be implemented.
- An order was also sought for providing security to doctors and other paramedical professionals.
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Conclusions of the deciding body
Claims upheld. Following orders were issued:
- Guidelines by the WHO and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare were to be followed to ensure the availability of the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for all health workers including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals actively attending to, and treating patients suffering COVID-19 in India, including metro cities and Tier-2 and 3 cities.
- The government of India, respective states and Union Territories and respective police authorities were directed to provide the necessary police security for doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or patients suspected of COVID-19 or where those quarantined are housed.
- The state must take the necessary action against those persons who obstruct and commit any offence in respect to the performance of duties by doctors, medical staff and other government officials responsible for containing COVID-19.
- The government shall explore all alternatives including enabling and augmenting domestic production of protective clothing and gear for medical professionals. Further, the government may also restrict the export of such materials to augment inventory and domestic stock.
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court took note of the measures taken by the government as presented by the Solicitor General of India who appeared for the Respondents. It was also stated that the UOI is not an adversary to any of the relief claimed in the writ petition. The Court laid out that it is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens from the pandemic. The doctors and the medical staff who are the first line of defense of the country in combating the pandemic must be protected by providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as recommended by the WHO on February 27, 2020. The Court took note of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the Rational Use of Personal Protective Equipment which provided for PPEs based on the risk profile of the health care worker.
The pandemic which is engulfing the entire country is a national calamity. In wake of a calamity of such nature, all citizens of the country must act in a responsible manner to extend a helping hand to the government and medical staff to perform their duties to contain and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of incidents of attacks on doctors while carrying out their duties, it is bound to instill a sense of security in doctors and medical staff from whom it is expected by the society that they perform their duties and protect the citizens from COVID-19. It is the duty of the State and the Police Administration to provide the necessary security at all places where patients who have been diagnosed positive with COVID-19 or who have been quarantined are housed.
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)
It is the first responsibility of the state to protect its citizens from the pandemic. It must be asserted here that the doctors and the medical staff are the first line of defense of the country in combating the pandemic and they have to be protected by providing them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as per the WHO recommendations, and any other kind of security that is necessary for them to be safe and fulfill their duties during the pandemic.