Covid-19: Supreme Court stays HC order on monitoring panels

Covid-19: Supreme Court stays HC order on monitoring panels

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 14

The Supreme Court has stayed the Himachal Pradesh High Court order of setting up district monitoring committees for Covid-19 in the state, saying it wasn’t an expert panel.

“Pending further orders, there shall be a stay of the direction of the High Court on its order dated July 7 on constituting district-level monitoring committees,” a Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud said in its order.

“Prima facie, the committees which have been constituted by the High Court do not consist of domain experts who are expected to assist on specific aspects of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Bench noted.

The Bench, however, clarified, “The pendency of these proceedings shall, however, not restrain the HC from exercising its jurisdiction to monitor the steps which have been taken for dealing with specific aspects of the pandemic.”

The order came after the state’s Additional Advocate General Abhinav Mukerji pointed out that Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the country where 100% of the population above the age of 18 years has been vaccinated with the first dose. He said the entire population was expected to be vaccinated with the second dose by the end of November and the rate of positivity in the state was estimated at 0.7 per cent only.

The Himachal Pradesh government had challenged the high court’s order on the ground that there was no need for it to constitute district-level Monitoring Committees as the state government had already constituted several committees from the panchayat to the state level.

The HC had constituted a committee for each district in the state consisting of the DCs, Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority and the President of the Bar Association at the district headquarters for monitoring the position in relation to the pandemic and suggesting measures to curb its spread.

Observing that it was aware of the work done by the state, the high court had said that it was of the view that a set of guidelines could not operate for the entire state and, hence, a local monitoring committee would be “more useful in such circumstances”.

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