The Bombay High Court has said that the frontline COVID-19 workers should be encouraged to discharge their duty without fear and should not be ostracised for travelling to work daily.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Amjad Sayed said this on Friday while dismissing a petition filed by a Palghar district resident, seeking for such workers to be kept in isolation.
The petition had been filed by one Charan Bhatt, in which he sought temporary accommodation in Mumbai for the essential service providers, who commute between Mumbai and Palghar district everyday for their work.
Bhatt, in his plea filed through advocate Uday Warunjikar, claimed that frontline workers contracting the infection in Mumbai and travelling back to their homes in Vasai and Virar had become one of the primaryreasons for the spread of COVID-19 in Palghar district.
The situation is similar in areas such as Thane, Kalyan Dombivali and Navi Mumbai as well, the petition claimed.
The state government had opposed the plea saying the petitioner should be more sensitive towards the essential workers who are engaged in combating the pandemic.
While dismissing the petition, the HC noted that a sense of fear drove the petitioner to approach the court, but narrow personal interest must yield to the greater public interest that is involved.
"The essential staffers, having an onerous responsibility of discharging most important public duties, are perceived by the petitioners as carriers of infection who could easily spread it among others," the court said.
"We are also inclined to the view that even if some of such staffers might have unfortunately been infected by COVID-19, that is no ground to sort of ostracise them," the bench said.
It added that authorities have been engaged in formulating policies to tackle the pandemic and these essential staffers have been tirelessly working to implement the measures of the overall benefit of mankind.
"It is a humane approach which is the call of the moment. The essential staffers, instead of being put to any disability because of their nature of work and also instead of being forced to reside in a place away from their houses, should be encouraged to discharge their duty without fear of duress and restraint," the court said.
It noted that these staffers themselves will take the greatest care and act with caution to ensure that they are free of the infection and do not transmit the same to their families.