New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court has ruled that people who have completed their quarantine period and have tested negative for Covid-19 cannot be detained in quarantine centres, asserting that this violates their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution — the right to life and personal liberty.
On Saturday, a bench comprising Justice Shashi Kant Gupta and Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery observed, “Persons, who have completed their quarantine period and have tested negative can not be further detained in the Quarantine Centers against their wishes. It would be in violation of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
The court was hearing a public interest litigation registered on the basis of a letter sent by lawyer Shaad Anwar on 13 May, seeking the release of members of the Tablighi Jamaat, who have been under quarantine in Uttar Pradesh since 5 March.
It noted that several people, including migrant workers, were lodged in quarantine centres in the state.
“In view of the above, we direct the State Government to ensure that the persons, who have completed their quarantine period be released forthwith from the Quarantine Centers provided they have tested negative and there is no legal impediment in releasing them,” the court ordered.
The bench also directed the formation of a 3-member committee in every district to ensure “smoother, greater and more effective functioning of the Quarantine Centers”.
This committee, it said, should make sure that the centres are “properly maintained, controlled and administered and also provide help, assistance, guidance in the wake of difficulties and problems faced by the persons, who are quarantined and further ensure that the persons, who have completed quarantine period, are released forthwith provided they have tested negative after completing quarantine period and there is no legal impediment in releasing them”.
All 3,001 Tablighi Jamaat members released: UP govt
In his plea, Anwar had alleged that even though the requisite quarantine period was over, the authorities had not released the members of the Tablighi Jamaat from the centres. This, he said, violated their fundamental rights under Article 21.
Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal had submitted a response Friday that a few people were still at the quarantine centres because of non-availability of transportation from Uttar Pradesh to their home states.
The state government was then directed to inform the court about the Jamaat members who were still quarantined and those who had been released after the quarantine period was over.
In response, the authorities had submitted a detailed chart Saturday, stating that a total of 3,001 Indian and 325 foreigners, who were members of the Tablighi Jamaat, had been quarantined initially.
According to the response, all 3,001 members had been released from the quarantine centres, but 21 out of them had been detained in jails.
The court accepted this submission and said, “Thus, keeping in view the statement made by Mr. Manish Goyal, learned Additional Advocate General at the Bar on the basis of the instructions received and the detailed Chart produced by him as referred to by us in the earlier part of this order, we accept the version of the State in this regard.”