Allahabad HC directs UP govt to set up Pandemic Public Grievance Committee in every district; seeks govt guidelines on inoculation of physically challenged, those without internet access

THE Allahabad High Court Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to constitute a three-member Pandemic Public Grievance Committee in every district to address the grievances of people locally.

The Grievance Committee would include the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) or a judicial officer of similar rank to be nominated by the district judge; the professor of a medical college to be nominated by the principal of that institution and if there is no medical college then a level-3 or 4 doctor of a district hospital to be nominated by Chief Medical Superintendent of that district hospital and an administrative officer of the rank of Additional District Magistrate to be nominated by the district magistrate.

The order was passed by a two-judge bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar in suo motu proceedings relating to the management of the Covid19 pandemic by the state.

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The court said complaints in rural areas could be made directly to the sub-divisional magistrate of the concerned tehsil, who would then transmit the same to the Pandemic Public Grievance Committee.

The Pandemic Public Grievance Committee, the court said, would also take the trouble of examining all the viral news relating to the pandemic in the state.

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The court was informed of news items on social media about complaints by people in various districts regarding the non-cooperation of government and private hospital staff and the district administration about making available life-saving drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumap as well as providing oxygen.

Inadequate compensation

In its hearing yesterday, the high court observed the state government’s decision to provide Rs 35 lakh compensation to families of polling officers who died while on duty during the panchayat elections was too little.

The court said to compensate the loss of life of the bread earner of the family and that too because of the deliberate act on the part of the state and the state election commission to force them to perform duties in the absence of RT-PCR support, the amount payable must be at least to the tune of Rs one crore.

It said it hoped the state election commission and UP government would rethink the amount of compensation before the next date of hearing.

Vaccination of physically challenged persons

On the court’s query to the UP government, whether it had any guidelines to inoculate physically challenged persons, the UP government sought to submit that it was following Central Government guidelines and it had not adopted or opted for any guideline which may differ from that of the Central Government; the vaccination was being done on walk-in-basis for those who were above 45 years of age. Below that age one required to be registered online. The high court did not find the explanation acceptable.

It directed the Central Government to place before it details on how it proposes to inoculate physically challenged persons who could not be brought to vaccination centres as well as those persons who are unable to register themselves online. It also directed the UP government to explain on the next date of hearing if there was any difficulty if it opts for its own guidelines to inoculate physically challenged persons even in the absence of the Central Government guidelines.

About those unable to register online, it said, “We may further observe that a large number of our population still resides in villages and there are people who are only labourers between the age group of 18 and 45 and cannot themselves register online for vaccination. The Central Government and state government are directed to place before this court the programme by which they would vaccinate those illiterate labourers and other villagers between the age group of 18 and 45 years if they are not able to register online for vaccination”.

Click here to read the order