NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a petition seeking direction to the Centre to conduct en masse door to door testing for COVID-19 and challenging the validity of PM CARES fund, and termed it having "political colour."
A bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and B.R. Gavai expressed discontent on the petition and asked the advocate Shashwat Anand to withdraw the petition or the court will impose fine on it. "The petition has political colour. Either you withdraw it or we will slap fine", said Justice Ramana.
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The petitioners had moved the court expressing grave concerns on the strategy deployed by the Centre to fight the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country. The petition argued that India is lagging behind in testing, and cited Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) status report on April 7, 2020. The petitioners contended Centre is conducting merely 82 tests per million people across the country.
The petition said the most worrying is that the reported confirmed COVID-19 cases, for sure, could be a gross underestimate as the testing rate in India is amongst the lowest in the world. The petitioners argued the spike in the number of corona infected cases within a matter of days, shows that it may only be the tip of the iceberg.
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The petition suggested that instead of looking to curb community transmission, emphasis should be laid on managing and treating the virus, and for this, the first step would be mass testing.
"India's response to fighting this pandemic is basal. It is primarily focused on curbing community transmission, rather than managing, identifying and treating the virus infection following the mass tests which is, to put it differently, evinced by the lack of enough and mass house-to-house tests as proportional to the humongous and densely packed population of India", said the petition.