'Disturbed by purported illegality': HC upset over 'brutality' by cops during Bihar lockdown

PATNA: The Patna High Court has expressed displeasure over complaints of “brutality by police” while enforcing lockdown in Bihar and “maltreatment” of COVID-19 patients and their attendants at various health care centres.

An order to this effect was passed on Tuesday by a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar after the perusal of a report by a three- member experts’ team which visited government and private hospitals, besides the COVID care centres, across the state.

“The state has adopted the policy of test, track and treat, but for an illiterate person in a village, dissemination of information has to be in a language he understands,” the court pointed out.

“The government must develop a state-level protocol enabling a common person to understand the need to tackle the virus,” it said.

The court noted with concern “purported illegality and brutality exhibited by the police in enforcing the lockdown” and directed authorities concerned to place a check on such measures.

Lockdown, enforced in the state on May 5, will continue to remain in place till June 1.

The court also said that “the issue of maltreatment of patients and attendants needs to be addressed immediately”.

“The government, as also medical health institutions, public as well as private, must proactively take steps to disseminate information and put in place a grievance redressal mechanism, since this alone would instil confidence in the minds of the general public,” the court ordered.

The bench further said it was in agreement with a suggestion made by P K Shahi, a former minister and ex- advocate general, for imparting “basic training to unskilled youth”, who showed a willingness to serve at the dedicated COVID care centres.

The court stated that lack of skilled manpower for operating various equipment installed at ICUs and wards of the health centres was “a common issue that surfaced during the hearing”.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on June 2.