Finally, the government succeeded in convincing the court to turn the three and four star hotels into “quarantine centers” so as to keep the patients of Covid-19 for observation and treatment as the IHC passed an order in favor of the said step on Friday.
The proposal was given to the Federal Government by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in February, 2020 and after having a positive response from the government, the NDMA directed the management of various hotels (3 and 4 stars) on March 16 and 28 to evacuate the buildings in this regard however a three-star hotel with the name “Margalla Hotel” challenged the NDMA’s directive and filed a petition in Islamabad High Court through Advocate Sikandar Bashir Mohmand pleading that the NDMA was not authorized for the said move and the Government should utilize their own places for this purpose instead of taking private properties without the owners’ consent. “The best place that government can use for this purpose is Prime Minister’s own Bani Gala residence. Why doesn’t the Government take that?”, the petitioner contended.
“The Government can take my home for Quarantine Center”, offers Justice Minallah
Justice Minallah while responding to the petitioner explained that the measures taken by the government against Corona Virus were to protect the lives of the general public and secure their fundamental rights. Therefore, the court couldn’t consider it reasonable to intervene in this matter. He (Justice Minallah) also voluntarily offered his home to the Government to be used for the same cause.
Advocate Sikandar contended the court that the state was bound to secure the fundamental rights of the public even in the situation of constitutional emergency. He further revealed that the hotel staff had been forcefully sent on leave on March 28, 2020 for an indefinite period of time and this had been resulting in a great financial damage to the owner of the hotel. Justice Minallah advised the petitioner to make a claim for the said damages later on.
Being not convinced with the lawyers’ arguments the IHC issued the written verdict which stated that the country had been facing extraordinary situation and whatever the Government was doing for the betterment and safety of the public, would be fully backed and supported by each and every department of the state. Any interference by this Court in the decisions of the Authority and the Federal Government might put the lives of the people in risk. The court while concluding its decision dismissed the petition in Government’s favor.
“The petitioner can claim for damages later”, says IHC
The court also urged the petitioner to claim the damages from the Government as compensation however guided them to do so at some later stage. The point to be noted here is that the NDMA has already turned buildings of various educational institutions, Public halls like Expo Center (Karachi & Lahore), Pak-China Center (Islamabad), hostels and train coaches into quarantine centers so as to keep the confirmed and under-observation patients of Corona Virus.
The Federal and Provincial governments are putting their untiring efforts to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped almost the whole world into its brutal claws and clutches. There is a lock down situation in the country till 14th April, 2020 and the government has announced a relief package for the poor community however its flawless implementation with zero corruption is the biggest challenge for the government in this critical situation.