The plea filed by activist Saket Ghokhle before Allahabad High Court said that the patients who appealed and made SOS calls on social media platforms asking for help, citing the need for oxygen and drugs, are being charged on the grounds that they were blaming and targeting the State Government under “false pretext.”
By: Kriti Dubey, Bharati Vidhyapeeth New Law College
The appalling conditions that people find themselves clutched are making them voice their concerns to the people on social media just to find a little hope that can help them come out of this difficult situation. Coming to the current scenario of the Uttar Pradesh Government and their obnoxious attitude towards the family members of the patients who are posting on social media platforms for help is not just sad but deeply disturbing. It was not enough for the people whose lives are already grim because of the pandemic that they are now being slapped with criminal and civil charges just because they are asking for help.
The plea filed by activist Saket Gokhle shows the inhumanity of the state government in which the families of the patients are being charged on the false pretext that they are spreading misleading information to target the state government. How paranoid is the state government and how incompetent they are in handling the current situations tells a million tales.
Nonetheless, the steps taken by the State Government in these critical situations mark the end of the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The letter petition said “Filling of the cases against the family members of the Covid positive patients issuing SOS calls for oxygen and other medical assistance is an illegal coercive action and gross misuse of the power by the State Government is all done to maintain the image of the government and to clamp down on any criticism of them handling the Covid-19 pandemic and to present a fake picture that everything is “hunky-dory” in the state.”
Saket Ghokhle also pointed out the incident that took place in Amethi where a boy was booked under IPC for “spreading false information” who was just trying to help his grandfather by posting an appeal on Twitter for the availability of oxygen.
Threatening the families of the patients when their loved ones are facing the situation of life and death is a clear violation of the right to speech enshrined under article 19 of the Constitution of India.
“There is no greater and illegal violation by the state in depriving people of their fundamental rights of life and expression on the frivolous grounds that portray a negative impression of the Government of Uttar Pradesh,” the plea states.
Yogi Adityanath, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister stated on the Sunday virtual press meeting and deliberately painted a pitch-perfect picture of how there is no shortage of oxygen in any private or Public Covid-19 hospitals in the state and the action under the National Security Act may be taken against people who are trying to mislead other people by spreading “rumors” on social media. There were other instructions also given, one of them being given to high-ranking police officials to “keep a close watch” on those spreading rumors. The Chief Minister also invoked The National Security Act, 1980 against the families who are appealing for oxygen on social media, which has stuck a massive fear into the hearts of the people.