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HC refuses to entertain plea to direct Delhi government to disclose actual figure of COVID-19 deaths

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, conducting the hearing through video conferencing, granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the court again at an appropriate time.

Published: 22nd May 2020 12:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd May 2020 12:50 PM   |  A+A-

Health workers wear protective gear sanitize their body during the nation wide lockdown in New Delhi on Saturday. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking direction to the Delhi government to come out with actual figures of COVID 19 cases and the death count without any delay and to scrap the death audit committee.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, conducting the hearing through video conferencing, disposed of the petition and granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the court again at an "appropriate time".

The PIL, filed by All India Lawyer's Union, sought direction to the Delhi government to publish the data relating to confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths occurring due to it through a daily bulletin every 24 hours, based on the figures being provided by various government and private hospitals.

The plea, filed through advocate Fidel Sebastian, said the AAP government has claimed that they have constituted a Death Audit Committee on April 20 and the figures are being released by the committee after collecting the data.

"However, the huge discrepancy between the actual information being provided by the various hospitals and the figures being released by the Delhi government has not been explained," it said.

The plea said it is immoral on the part of the Delhi government to conceal from citizens the actual figures of the spread of the virus and the death toll.

"The citizens have a right to know the correct facts and to take their own decisions on the issues confronting them. The figures of new cases and death toll are being given by responsible medical officers of the respective hospitals, there is no relevance of the Death Audit Committee and the said committee is liable to be scrapped," it said.

It claimed the Delhi government is deliberately underplaying the extent of the pandemic resulting from the COVID virus by, amongst other things, establishing a committee which screens reports from hospitals that are treating the people stricken with COVID.

"It has been extensively reported by the print and electronic media as well as representatives of the people and civil society at large that there is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Delhi government to downplay the seriousness of the spread of the disease and the number of deaths caused by the virus in the city.

"As per the Delhi government, the figures of COVID-19 patients as on May 17, 2020 is 9,755 with deaths at 148. However, the figures of death released by the Respondents do not even come near the figures released by two among the several major hospitals who are admitting and treating COVID-19 patients," the petition said.

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