The Delhi High Court on Thursday slammed the Delhi's AAP government over the deteriorating COVID situation in the national capital. The court asked the Kejriwal-led government if it could explain to those who had lost their near and dear ones to COVID-19 in the last 18 days why the administration did not take steps when cases were spiralling in the city.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramanonium Prasad asked why did the Delhi government wait till the court intervened to take steps such as reducing the number of people attending weddings to 50 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"You (Delhi government) saw from November 1 which way the wind was blowing. But you turn turtle now because we asked you some questions. The bell should have rung loud and clear when the numbers were spiralling. Why did you not wake up when you saw the situation was deteriorating? Why did we have to shake out of your slumber on November 11? What did you do from November 1 till November 11? Why did you wait 18 days (till November 18) to take a decision. Do you know how many lives were lost during this period? Can you explain it to those who lost their near and dear ones," the bench asked.
The court also expressed its dissatisfaction with the Delhi government's monitoring in districts with high cases with regard to implementation of social distancing norms, prevention of spitting and wearing of masks.
The bench said that the fines being imposed -- Rs 500 for first violation and Rs 1,000 for every subsequent violation -- did not appear to set a deterrent. The court was of the view that there was substantial disparity in monitoring and imposition of fines in certain districts as compared to others.
"What kind of monitoring and marshalling are you doing? Look at the situation seriously with a magnifying glass. You have crossed cities like New York and Sao Paolo," the court said.
The high court was hearing a PIL by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increase in the COVID-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded 7,486 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally in the national capital to over 5 lakh, even as 131 new fatalities, the highest single-day death count till date, pushed the toll to 7,943. On Wednesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said over 660 ICU beds are planned to be added in various city government hospitals in the next few days in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases here. He said a proposal has been sent to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor for the central government to allow the city government to impose "local lockdowns in the market places which are potential COVID hotspots".
Meanwhile, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said there won't be any fresh lockdown in the national capital as there is "no need for it", but restrictions could be imposed in some crowded areas to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Delhi government also issued an order on Wednesday allowing all COVID-19 hospitals of the Delhi government to "engage fourth and fifth year MBBS students, interns and BDS doctors to assist duty doctors at an honorarium of Rs 1,000 (8 hour shift) and Rs 2,000 (12 hour shift) per day".