On Thursday, the Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi government and South Delhi Municipal Corporation to take all actions, such as fumigation and sanitization where health workers are residing, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The bench headed by Justice Asha Menon held that while no one has a right to ask for the removal of the resident health workers from their neighborhood because of an unrealistic fear of the Covid-19, the Delhi Government cannot escape their obligation to provide a protected environment to the senior citizens and other residents adjacent to such buildings that are occupied by the health workers. The bench further sought an action taken report from the respondents and scheduled the matter for further hearing on 28th May.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by a senior citizen Dr. Anil Dhalla, who sought a direction to the Delhi Government that he along with other senior citizens with co-morbidities are anxious about their health and well-being as measures relating to hygiene are not being adhered to by the occupants of property bearing no. 197-C, Cariappa Marg, M B Road, Delhi which was used as a guest house for the frontline health workers. The petitioner further sought to ensure that no guest house is run illegally and neither any portion of the said property is rented out to any person whatsoever who can be a threat to the life and safety of the residents.
However, Advocate Rishikesh Kumar, who appeared for the District Magistrate (South), argued that health workers are the front-line warriors of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot be asked to move away from the property in question.
Meanwhile, petitioner’s counsel advocate Neha Jain submitted that since the petitioner is a senior citizen living with five other senior citizens, with what is described as ‘co-morbidities’, they are anxious about their health and well-being as measures relating to hygiene are not being adhered to by the occupants of the property who are numerous in number and which might lead to a great risk of infection to the petitioner and the other residents as well.
Taking into consideration, the submissions on both sides, the court held that “senior citizens above the age of 65 years have their movement restricted as they are not even allowed to leave their homes and their concerns cannot be wished away by the government authorities, who are obligated to take care of all the citizens.”
Subsequently, the court directed the Delhi government as well as DM (South) to take actions, such as fumigation and sanitization, similar to the measures being adopted for containment zones, in the area in question and may also adopt the practice/protocol in other areas where health workers are residing, which would assuage fears of other residents in the locality, that they may be exposed to a greater risk of infection.