top of page

SC directs Centre to issue guidelines regarding the usage of disinfectant tunnels on human beings



GURUSIMRAN SINGH NARULA v UNION OF INDIA & ANR, WRIT PETITION (C) NO.560 OF 2020, November 5, 2020.

The supreme court bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R.Subhash Reddy, and Justice M.R. Shah directed the Central government to issue necessary guidelines in the exercise of powers vested in it under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, regarding ban/regulation on the usage of disinfection tunnels involving spraying or fumigation of chemical/organic disinfectants for the human beings and also concerning the exposure of human being to artificial ultraviolet rays.

The petitioner has approached the Supreme Court through a Public Interest Litigation against the spray of chemical disinfectants on the human body. Also relied on the publication from the World Health Organization where it was stated that spraying of disinfectants on the human body can be dangerous and ultraviolet rays should not be used to disinfect the hands. Further, the petitioner submitted that the Union of India has not taken any steps to stop the use despite the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare through its advisory dated 18.04.2020 stated that spraying of disinfectant on the human being is not recommended.

The questions which arose for determination are:

(I) Whether spraying or fumigation of any kind of chemical disinfectants on human beings without the approval of the relevant ministry is violative of

Article 21?

II) Whether spraying or fumigation of any kind of self-claimed organic disinfectant on human beings without the approval of the relevant Ministry is violative of Article 21?

III) Whether exposure of human beings to artificial ultraviolet rays is violative of Article 21?

The court observed that,

Article 21 of the Constitution provides for protection of life and personal liberty. The expression 'life' used in Article 21 has wide import and connotation. Article 21 encompasses a bundle of rights which have been recognized from time to time by the legislature of this Country and Courts of this Country including this Court. Right to life as recognized under Article 21 is Right to live with dignity. Right to health is also recognized as an important facet of Article 21 of the Constitution. We may refer to pronouncement of this Court in Devika Biswas versus Union of India and others, (2016) 10 SCC 726, where this Court held that Right to Health is an integral facet of Right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. (Para 19)

The court observed that when a statute confers power on authority, that power is to be exercised for the benefit of the people and also coupled with duty and has taken note of the judgments in Commissioner of Police versus Gordhandas Bhanji, AIR 1952 SC 16 and L.Hirday Narain versus income Tax Officer, Bareilly, (1970) 2 SCC 355. The court also referred to the judgment in Municipal Council, Ratlam versus Shri Vardichan and others, (1980) 4 SCC 162 wherein Justice V.R. KRISHNA IYER has laid down that improvement of public health is paramount principle of governance.


Thus it is the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who had to lay down the guidelines or give directions to the concerned Ministries or Departments of Government of India, the State Governments and State Authorities regarding measures to be taken by them in response to any disrupting situation or disaster. (para 23)

The court has issued the following directions,

i) The respondent No.1 may consider and issue necessary directions in exercise of powers vested in it under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, regarding ban/Regulation on the usage of disinfection tunnels involving spraying or fumigation of chemical/organic disinfectants for the human beings. or
ii) There shall be similar consideration and directions by the respondents as indicated above with regard to exposure of human being to artificial ultraviolet rays.
iii) Looking to the health concern of the people in general, the aforesaid exercise be completed by respondent No.1 within a period of one month. (Para 42)

Comments


Articles

bottom of page