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Medical opinion should guide public interest, not clamour: Bombay HC

Panaji, March 27 (IANS) While directing the Goa government to put in place an efficient system for home-delivery of essential goods and keep grocery stores open during the lock-down period, the Bombay High Court in Goa on Friday also said that state authorities must not be “over-influenced” by public pressure and that public interest should be guided by scientific and medical opinion.

In his order on Friday, Justice Mahesh Sonak, who was hearing a bunch of petitions related to streamlining of government efforts towards ensuring steady supply of essential goods to the people in view of the ongoing 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also called for flexibility in decision-making in efforts being taken by the authorities to keep the coronavirus spread at bay.

“A system for making home deliveries has to be put in place at the earliest. Even the directives of the National Disaster Management Authority and the Government of India propose encouragement to home deliveries. The state government and its agencies must be proactive in encouraging and facilitating home deliveries of essentials, so that, there is no need to visit grocery shops during the period of lockdown,” Sonak said, adding that people were essentially “not interested in defying the curfew” while queuing in front of the grocery shops and pharmacies.

The order also directed the state government to set up a “robust system” for home deliveries of essentials and ensuring social distancing in public spaces.

“The decision to permit grocery shops to remain open, should not be construed as dilution of the earlier resolve to put a system of home deliveries of essentials in place, so that there is no necessity for people to access grocery shops personally and thereby dilute the lockout,” Sonak said.

The order comes a day after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who had earlier imposed a complete lockdown of the state, including closure of grocery stores and shops selling essential goods, on Thursday said that he was reversing his opinion “under duress” following the criticism of his decision for a total lockdown.

Sawant on Thursday had also said that the government should not be held responsible for the spread of coronavirus on account of the re-opening of groceries.



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