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PIL Filed in SC by Doctors NGO Wants China, WHO To “Tell-All” On COVID-19

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The PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to Union of India to make a representation to the People’s Republic of China and WHO to make available all the relevant information related to the novel Corona Virus so that respondent “Union of India” can combat Corona Virus effectively and efficiently protecting the Rights of Citizens under Article 21.

The Petition has been filed by an organization “DOCTORS FOR YOU” which is a registered society under the Societies Registration Act 1860 and represented through its President Dr. Rajat Jain who is a medical practitioner.

The Petition has been filed in public interest seeking a direction for the Respondents- Government of India to use the diplomatic channel as mandated under Section- 35(2)(g) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to obtain information from Chinese government in order to enable India to be better prepared for the current crisis.

PIL mentions that the spread of the deadly virus puts on scales the Right to life guaranteed by the Constitution if India. The Respondents have invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005 with a view to deal with the present pandemic. The DM Act, 2005 mandates certain measures to be taken by Central Government for disaster management which postulates coordination with the United Nations agencies, international organisations and governments of foreign countries. Thus, the Respondent government is duty bound to make representation to the People Republic of China and WHO.

The petitioner further said that Chinese government has deliberately hidden and censored information relating to the novel Corona Virus and its COVID-19 strain and silenced the doctors who tried to raise an alarm. It is alleged by countries like UK, USA and Australia that early warnings were given by Doctor Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded by the Chinese authorities and ordered not to report on the virus. Other doctors were also silenced from making any disclosure related to the novel Corona Virus. Even the labs in Wuhan, Hubei, China were prevented from sharing the sequencing of the virus. This action of deliberately withholding significant information pertaining to the virus has led to this global pandemic outbreak.

The State is duty bound to ensure that every person enjoys the Right to Health guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and must endeavour to ensure that every person continue to enjoy this right which includes making efforts to obtain all the relevant information on the novel Corona Virus through diplomatic channels.

The UDHR obligates the Chinese Government to protect the right to health and well-being of not only its citizens, but the whole global community. State Parties should refrain from infringing on the Basic Human Rights of people recognized under UDHR and the act of concealment and failure on timely disclosure of crucial information on the novel Corona Virus China is in direct contravention of the Right to Health provided under Article 25(1) of the UDHR”, said in the petition.

Thereafter, the Petitioner notified that the Chinese government by not issuing prompt health warnings regarding the potential outbreak of the COVID-I9 despite clear evidence and hazard looming large, and on hiding information of the same from the general public as well as health authorities within its administration, is responsible for the global outbreak of this pandemic. Whereby, failing to address prevention, treatment and control of epidemic of covid-19 within its territory and to the rest of the world, China has violated Article 2 read with Article 12 of ICESCR.

Later it says that China is legally liable under the Responsibility of the States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, 2001. Article 2 of the Responsibility of the States for internationally Wrongful Acts, 2001 defines internationally wrongful act as an act or omission which constitutes as a breach of any international obligation. Article 4 of the responsibility of the States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, 2001speaks about “Conduct of Organs of State”, Article 14 of the Responsibility of the States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, 2001 provides for “Extension in time of the breach of an international obligation.”

“WHO under Article l0(a) of the International Health Regulations is under a duty to share information at its disposal with other states in case of public health risk even when the states fails to cooperate to provide information. WHO by taking a backseat in alerting the world community at large acted in direct contravention of International Health Regulations which state that the organization may in case of a public health emergency without the consent of the host party pass on vital information at its disposal for prevention of a larger harm”.

Therefore, the petitioner said that the Indian Government can seek China’s collaboration and cooperation and request China to make available all the relevant health information including death tolls, containment measure undertaken, ongoing research. India should call upon the Chinese 51 Government to give India access to safe, quality, effective, and affordable COVID-l9 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and thus cooperate in its the fight against COVID-l9. The IHR provides for cooperation through bilateral channels between State Parties for the development, strengthening and maintenance of the public health capacities. Thus, Indian Government should be directed to approach the Chinese Government to provide assistance on the ongoing Corona Virus outbreak.

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