Srinagar: At a time when coronavirus cases and deaths are surging in Jammu and Kashmir, a plea on the COVID-19 crisis filed two weeks before the J&K High Court is not being heard or listed for ‘unknown reasons’, as per the lawyers who filed the plea.
One of these lawyers, Habeel Iqbal, told Kashmir Reader that on 28 April they had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking intervention of the court to monitor government’s preparedness in dealing with the second COVID-19 wave but so far the case is neither being listed nor heard despite being of great ‘public importance.’
It is pertinent to mention here that the High Courts in other states have promptly pulled up state governments over COVID-19 preparedness and measures while the apex court is also lately passing directions to the Central Government to mitigate the crisis.
The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir last year had passed a slew of directions in view of COVID-19 and had also recently in an order recorded that it was satisfied with the government’s steps taken in view of the surging infections.
“This was not supposed to be an adversarial process but we wanted a consultative mechanism to be evolved to deal with this crisis. We are pained that the court has not even listed it,” Counsel Iqbal said.
He added that the lawyers had moved the court with three urgency memos and the plea was mentioned in the court of Chief Justice but there has been ‘no hearing at all’.
“Our pleadings are totally different this time as the crisis has hit us with a different magnitude. There needs to be accountability,” the counsel said.
The petition has been filed at the instance of Farhana Latief, a legal researcher, who has sought attention of the court towards capacity building measures while seeking answers to what has been the preparedness of the government since the first wave of the infection hit the region.
The plea sought directions from the court to press upon the government to expand capacity at district level hospitals to prevent the overburdening of tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar.
“We are not just talking about augmentation of capacities in terms of oxygen supply, but in terms of beds, ventilators, medical and paramedical staff,” the petitioner says.
The Jammu and Kashmir region has now almost 50,000 active cases of the coronavirus while on average 40 deaths daily have been reported for the last one month.