SC to Govt.: Consider issuing directions on use of disinfectants on humans

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 5th November 2020, in the matter of Gurusimran Singh Narula v. Union of India & Anr. observed that for spraying disinfectant on human body, fumigation or use of UV rays against the human body, there has to be regulatory regime when Central Government itself is of the view that such use is not recommended. In event, use of disinfectant on human body is to cause adverse effect on the health of the people, there has to be immediate remedial action and the Central Government cannot stop only by saying that such use is not recommended.

Questions before the Hon’ble Supreme Court:

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?

Hon’ble Supreme Court’s Observations:

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. (Para 19)

The provisions of Disaster Management Act, Section 10, 36 and other provisions are not only provisions of empowerment but also cast a duty on different authorities to act in the best interest of the people to sub­serve the objects of the Act. (Para 32)

When a statute confer power on authority and that power is to be exercised for the benefit of the people in general, the power is coupled with the duty. (Para 36)

For spraying disinfectant on human body, fumigation or use of UV rays against the human body, there has to be regulatory regime when Central Government itself is of the view that such use is not recommended. (Para 41)

In event, use of disinfectant on human body is to cause adverse effect on the health of the people, there has to be immediate remedial action and the Central Government cannot stop only by saying that such use is not recommended. (Para 41)

The Union of India 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. (Para 42(i)) or There shall be similar consideration and directions by the Union of India as indicated above with regard to exposure of human being to artificial ultraviolet rays.(Para 42(ii))

Copy of judgement: Judgement_05-Nov-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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