Relocate exam centre, not Covid Care Center: Bombay High Court tells Daund authorities

Mumbai: Observing that the authorities must take all possible care of students, the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to direct the authorities in Daund city, in Pune to shift Covid patients from a college to some other Covid Care Center. The HC said that students, who would have to sit in this college for their nursing exams, could be made to sit in some other institutions.

A bench of Justices Amjad Sayed and Surendra Tavade noted the "substantial risk" in shifting Covid patients from this college, as the contagious virus could spread further.

The bench was dealing with the plea filed by a college through advocate Uday Warunjikar seeking directions to the local authorities to release its premises, which has been temporarily acquired by the civic body to treat Covid patients.

Warunjikar told the judges that the college premises, which is under the control of the local civic body since March, is now required as it is one of the centers for the second year nursing exams, which would commence from September 8.

"Our premise, is being used as Covid Care Center and the patients here are asymptomatic and they can be shifted elsewhere so that the premises can be used for conducting the examination. Further, the nursing course students are required to complete their theory and practical portions and relieving orders (of the premises) are required to be issued before October," Warunjikar told the judges.

The government counsel, vehemently opposed the request and informed the bench that it is not possible to release the said premises. He highlighted the fact that Covid cases are rising in Daund city and around 504 patients have been detected in last 15 days. He further told the judges that due to the scaling numbers, more Covid care centers are being started.

"Since Coronavirus is highly contagious and there is possibility of spread of the virus during the transfer of the patients, it would not be proper to transfer the patients particularly when the number of patients are increasing by the day," the state counsel submitted.

Having heard the parties, Justice Sayed said, "There appears to be a substantial risk involved in transferring the Covid positive patients from the said college to any other premises proposed as Covid Care Center. Moreover there are about atleast 80 students who are to write the examination."

"The Covid Care Center at the college premises will have to be deeply sanitized and made virus-free. Considering the paucity of time and the risk involved to the health and safety of the students to write examination in premises which is presently being used as a Covid Care Center, we do not think it proper to grant the mandatory relief as sought," Justice Sayed added.

The bench accordingly ordered the local authorities to arrange two schools, which could be used as alternative exam centers for the nursing students.

"Needless to say that necessary medical protocol shall be followed by the authorities concerned, keeping in mind the health and safety of the students," Justice Sayed said while adjourning the matter till September 23.

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Free Press Journal