By LE Desk

Cuttack, June 26, 2021: The Orissa High Court has set July 5 deadline for the State government to come up with a district-wise report on Covid-19 deaths. 

The court set the deadline while taking up the issue relating to under-counting of Covid deaths on Wednesday, The New Indian Express reported.

The directions came while dismissing a PIL filed by lawyer Nishikanta Mishra alleging that the State government was fudging the death figures. The court said the issue regarding possible under-counting of Covid deaths in the State, which is sought to be highlighted in this petition, is a serious one.

However, the court has reservations about the manner in which the petitioner has gone about preparing the petition in haste, based on sketchy facts gleaned essentially from press reports. More seriously, he has made a representation to the Additional Chief Secretary of Health by e-mail only on June 16 and without waiting for a response, has chosen to immediately file this petition on June 18 without complying with the Orissa High Court Public Interest Litigation Rules, 2010, the court said.

“Therefore, while the court is not inclined to entertain the present petition, the issue relating to under-counting of Covid deaths is proposed to be taken up by this court in the pending PIL concerning issues incidental to the outbreak of the pandemic”, the court said, while dismissing Mishra’s petition, reported The New Indian Express.

The division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice SK Panigrahi said, “Mr Ashok Kumar Parija, Advocate General, is requested to have annexure-2 to the present writ petition, which is purported to be the details available on the website of Chief District Medical Officer, Nayagarh regarding Covid deaths in that district, examined. It is stated that the figure therein is far more than the official figure.”

“The AG will inform the Court on July 5, when it is taken up whether the issue of undercounting of Covid 19 deaths has been enquired into by the Additional Chief Secretary, Health and what is the factual position in that regard”, the Bench said, adding, “The district-wise position be placed before the Court on the next date in the said writ petition”.

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