Timely administration of Covid test result is covered under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution: Karnataka High Court

Right to health is an integral part of Right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Therefore, providing timely Covid test results is a necessity to prevent deterioration of health of Covid patients. A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar while adjudicating the matter in Re Karnataka High Court Case [W.P.No.6435/2020] dealt with the issue of timely health management and provision of free food grains to the poor and needy.

One of the staff members of the High Court died to Covid-19 because there was an inordinate delay in announcing the Covid test result. In another incident pertaining to the pandemic, an indent was placed by the State Government with the Central Government for two crore doses of Covishield and one crore doses of Covaxin to vaccinate beneficiaries from the age group of 18 years to 44 years. Only around 6 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine were received by the State Government. Several individuals who were administered the first dose, were unable to receive the second dose, despite the expiry of 6-week prescription period between the two doses. Thus, the situation prevailing today clearly showed that if all the available 9 lakh doses are to be used for administering the second dose, a substantial number of beneficiaries who have taken the first dose will not get the second dose, thereby rendering the first dose less effective. In response to the prevailing situation, the Karnataka State Government filed written submissions indicating that after the last order was passed, certain additional doses of vaccine were received.

Upon considering the aforesaid facts, the Court in response to the first situation dealing with death of a High Court staff member due to delayed test result, held that the State Government must initiate appropriate action in accordance with law against all concerned individuals who are responsible for this lapse and place on record a report on the action taken. The test results should be informed to the concerned individual within 24 hours from the collection of the swab sample. In response to the second situation dealing with the issue of vaccination, the Court held that We have already noted that right to health is an integral part of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Considering the corresponding obligation of the State, the Central Government came out with the policy of vaccination.

The Court while passing this judgment considered the plight of immigrants and stated that; “It is pointed across the bar that in the first wave of pandemic and lockdown, the orders passed by this Court on 11th June 2020 and 2nd July 2020 note that under the Atma Nirbhar Scheme of the Government of India, a person who is not holding a ration card of any State was entitled to get free ration of 5 kg. of rice and 1 kg. of channa per person per month. We direct both the Governments to take a call on the issue whether the benefits of Atma Nirbhara Scheme as applicable last year can be extended to those who are not holding a ration card of any State. Appropriate decision taken by the Governments shall be placed on record within a period of one week from today”

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