Case Law Details

Case Name : Gauri Grover Vs Government of Nct of Delhi & Ors (Delhi High Court)
Appeal Number : W.P.(C) 8917/2015
Date of Judgement/Order : 21/04/2017
Related Assessment Year :
Courts : All High Courts (4420) Delhi High Court (1319)

1. These rest complaining about the failure of the respondents to take appropriate action regarding outbreak of Vector Borne Diseases, including, inter alia, dengue, chikungunya and malaria which diseases are caused on account of mosquito bites. In the final order dated 17th August, 2016, in these petitions, this Court has expressed concern about the inadequate preventive and curative steps which were required to be taken by civic authorities in the city, all of whom are represented in the petitions. The pressing exigency involved is the approach of the seasons in which maximum cases of these diseases are reported.

2. It, therefore, cannot be denied that in view of the multitude of cases of vector borne disease including, inter alia, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya, continuous monitoring by this court is not only appropriate but extremely necessary.

3. It is widely experienced that global warming is increasingly impacting cropping patterns and has led to unpredictable monsoons. As a result, the growth of vectors and disease has also become uncertain. The reports show that even though there has not been an advent of monsoon in Delhi so far, the cases of Dengue and Chikungunya are already emerging.

4. Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that the public has little, if at all any, knowledge and engagement with the birth, life and breeding of the vectors; of the progression of the diseases; of their long term impacts; nature of treatment and medication; post treatment rehabilitation (especially persons afflicted with Chikungunya who suffer long term debilitating effects).

5. Unfortunately, it is not only these vector borne diseases which are wreaking havoc. Twenty first century India is seeing the citizens (of its capital-the City of Delhi) of Delhi reeling with something as basic as water borne diseases which include gastroenteritis, cholera and typhoid, year after year. Periodically a sense of urgency is propounded by the authorities which is completely abandoned the moment the season passes or the wheels of time moves.

6. Past experience must have been evaluated and action plans drawn up.

7. It cannot be denied that the issues of concern have to be addressed only by the authorities. The failure to address the same has necessitated intervention by the court. The consequence of the inaction is loss of life as well as irreversible damage to the citizens of this city. Therefore, this court cannot wait for the event to occur, before reacting to the need of the public and to ensure discharge of not only the statutory duties of public authorities but also the public law obligations.

8. It appears that public may be suffering because of complete lack of accountability with regard to the omissions and negligence resulting in the problems of vector borne diseases, which certainly has some connection to discharge of public functions by the authorities. As back as in the year 1980 in the pronouncement reported as AIR 1980 SC 1622 Municipal Council, Ratlam vs. Vardhichand & Ors., Krishna Iyer, J held thus:

“9…… All power is a trust – that, from countable for its exercise – that, from the people, and for the people, all
springs, and all must exist. “(1) Discretion becomes a duty when the beneficiary brings home a duty when the beneficiary brings home the circumstances for its benign exercise.”

9. These concerns have compelled us to list these writ petitions and to undertake an assessment of the measures taken by the authorities pursuant to the orders dated 17th August, 2016.

10. Mr. Rahul Mehra, Senior Standing Counsel of the GNCTD has informed us that in anticipation of the monsoon season, extensive steps are being taken. He has handed over a document captioned “Action Taken 2017” which, inter alia, mentions community connect initiative meetings; Public Awareness Campaign through dissemination of information education and communication (IEC); intersect-oral coordination, reporting and surveillance measures; research initiatives as well as scrutiny of logistics to ensure availability of adequate stock of insecticides.

11. We are informed that in a meeting held on the 23rd of March, 2017, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi has reviewed the status and preparedness of the authorities regarding these Vector Borne Diseases.

12. Mr. Rahul Mehra, Senior Standing Counsel would point out that the Government of NCT, Delhi, has been making continuous key interventions and claims to have pursued a comprehensive and multi pronged approach for containment of mosquito breeding and vector borne diseases in as much as there is no vaccination available for dengue, malaria and chikungunya. It is also stated by Mr. Mehra that all actions taken in the year 2016 towards prevention and management of these diseases shall continue in the year 2017.

13. The Government of NCT of Delhi report does not disclose the preparedness or ability of the medical facilities to cope with the above including the diseases. A report in this regard shall be filed before the next date.

14. Action Taken Reports by EDMC, SDMC, NDMC, Indian Railways, the Delhi Cantonment Board shall be filed in this behalf within one week from today.

15. The respondents also ought to disclose all treatment options to the public including in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Allopathy, Unani, Tibetan medicine and any other disciplines as well. Precautionary steps should be widely publicised. It cannot be denied that this is the responsibility of the authorities to apprise the public all of the above.

16. This court does not have the expertise to determine the best medium(s), method or mode of putting the above information in the public domain. But efforts in this regard must be made forthwith by both the Centre and the GNCTD.

17. Let a report in this regard be placed before us within two weeks.

18. It is made clear that if court orders are not been complied with and the citizens of Delhi face the same problems as in the past, this court shall take stern action against those who are found failing in discharging their statutory duties and public law obligations which may invite action under the Contempt of Courts Act as well as imposition upon the person concerned of personal financial liability for compensation and damages to victims. (Ref: The Pradeshiya Industrial & Investment Corporation of UP Ltd. v. M/s Pacquik Industries Ltd. & Ors : 2016 SCC Online Del 531 : Paras 208-223 – Misfeasance in Public Office)

19. The Government of India through Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is also impleaded as a party in this petition. We direct the Central Government through the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and GNCTD to place the proposed action plan, regarding the above problems before us within two weeks.

20. Court Notice without process fee shall be issued for the service of respondents who are not represented in Court today. Copy of the order passed today shall be enclosed with the Court Notice for compliance.

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