The Supreme Court has asserted that police involved in any coercive action against people in distress sharing their plight of information relating to Covid treatment on social media and seeking help will be contempt of court.
Justice Dhananjay Y. Chandrachud, pointing out the free flow of information on the deficiencies and needs during the pandemic, recalled that during the 1970 famine it was this flow of information that helped the government in tackling the problem effectively in contrast to the clampdown in 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
“Let a message go out loud and clear to DGPs not to take action against citizens for social media posts about the shortage of beds, oxygen shortage, condition of Covid care centres and hospitals etc during the pandemic,” the three-judge bench said.
“I flag this issue at the outset. We don't want any clampdown on information… If citizens communicate their grievances on social media and the Internet, it can't be said it's wrong information,” the bench added.
The Court, in another dig at the Centre, sought to know the rationale behind the different pricing of the vaccine for the Centre and the states. Describing as “very disturbing” the different pricing for the Centre, states and private hospitals, the court asked, “What happens to the marginalised and SC/ST population? Should they be left to the mercy of private hospitals.”
The court also expressed concern over overworked doctors, nurses and other medical staff attending to Covid patients. The court said that be it government hospitals or private, the doctors and nurses attending Covid patients are reaching a breaking point and must be paid more