PIL filed before SC seeking directions to increase the number of authorised laboratories for testing Coronavirus

The outbreak of Coronavirus has put the entire nation under threat and danger. With the increasing number of corona hit patients, the hospitals are getting booked rapidly. Under this panic situation, a plea was filed by journalist, Prashant Tandon and Social Activist, Kunajana Singh through Advocates Ashima Mandla and Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi on 21 March 2020.

The petitioners had prayed that the Supreme Court should, firstly, direct the Government to exponentially increase the number of authorised laboratories for testing Coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to ensure widespread accessibility of the testing centres given the huge population of our country; secondly, direct the Government to exponentially increase quarantine/isolation centres in the event of a further outbreak of COVID-19; thirdly, direct the Government to make available temporary hospital beds and such other facilities for rural patients to be combat-ready for any exigency in case of a possible outbreak in rural India; and fourthly, direct the Government to facilitate thermal screening at public places as a precautionary measure to contain the outbreak of COVID-19.

They further urged to the Apex Court that the availability of just 52 authorised centres for testing and verifying the virus is insufficient and it is the need of the hour that the numbers of such verifying laboratories should increase for public welfare.

The petition was presented before a three-judge bench of the Apex Court headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and also comprising Justices K M Joseph and Sanjiv Khanna. The plea sought immediate directions. As the court ordered the Central government to exponentially increase the number of authorised laboratories. The Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde constituted a bench along with other judges and deliberated on a writ petition filed on the issue. Keeping the intention of the petition in mind i.e., to provide better and far-reaching facilities to the underprivileged class who are suffering from a virus, the CJI allowed converting the PIL into a representation which will be served to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who may place it for consideration to the concerned Union Ministry. This comes as an effect of 271 confirmed cases of coronavirus as reported by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).