New Delhi [India], Aug 7 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Friday gave its nod for the use of "9999999999" as a dummy phone number and address of labs or hospitals for COVID-19 testing of homeless mentally ill patients after the submissions were made by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) in an additional affidavit.
The ICMR filed the affidavit before the Delhi High Court on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal claiming the homeless mentally ill persons are facing problem in COVID-19 testing due to provisions of mandatory ID proof and mobile number.
A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, while disposing of the PIL, also directed the Central government to consider the submission of the petitioner, to use the ID of the police officer having jurisdiction over the concerned area as an ID proof of homeless mentally ill persons for COVID-19 testing as an alternative.
The ICMR, in its affidavit, submitted that considering health being a state subject, the concerned state health authority may consider adoption off suitable protocol to address the grievance raised while ensuring that strategy of 'Test/Track/Treat' is followed.
Earlier, the court had directed the Central government to find a mechanism and issue guidelines for the COVID-19 testing facility for mentally ill homeless people, including those without any identity or address proofs.
Delhi government, in its affidavit, had said that one of the primary problems being faced in the testing of the homeless and destitute persons with mental illness or suspected mental illness is the unavailability or absence of photo identity card and a valid mobile number, both of which are mandatory conditions by the national guidelines of the ICMR issued by Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
It said that homeless or destitute persons with mental illness or suspected mental illness deserve all health care services including a test for COVID-19, owing to the fact that such persons are usually more exposed to the risks of the pandemic in comparison to the persons having a privilege of house shed or a roof over their head.
Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who is the petitioner-in-person, had submitted that homeless mentally ill persons being a neglected group within a vulnerable section not only need special care and attention but also require regular support from the government and society.
"However, a crisis like the present COVID-19 pandemic puts additional responsibility on the government shoulders to formulate and implement such public health programmes for homeless mentality ill persons which are not only able to provide mental health treatment but can also effectively protect them from the said deadly virus," the plea said.
It also submitted that as per Section 3 (3) of the Mental Healthcare Act-2017, it is the duty of the government to take all necessary measures for providing a range of services required by persons with mental illness. (ANI)