There should be no clampdown on citizens seeking help on the presumption that they are raising false grievances on the internet, the Supreme Court said on Friday, terming the second wave of COVID-19 cases as a national crisis.
"There should be free flow of information, we should hear voices of citizen," said a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, and asked the Centre, states and all DGPs not to take any action against anyone posting a shortage of oxygen, beds or doctors as spreading rumour.
If any action is taken against such posts by citizens in distress, we will treat it as contempt of the court, the bench also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said.
Observing that even frontline doctors and healthcare workers were not getting beds for treatment, the bench said the healthcare infrastructure inherited over past 70 years was not sufficient and the situation was grim.
The apex court said hostels, temples, churches and other places be opened for converting them as COVID-19 care centres.
It said the Centre should adopt national immunization model as poor people will not be able to pay for vaccines.
"What happens to the marginalised and SC/ST population? Should they be left to the mercy of private hospitals, it asked.
The court also said the government must consider National Immunisation Programme for various vaccines and must think of providing free of cost vaccination to all citizens.
It said the healthcare sector has come to a breakpoint and retired doctors or officials could be re-employed in this crisis.
The top court also said that private vaccine manufacturers cannot be allowed to decide which state should get how much.
It allowed the Centre to give a power point power point presentation on COVID-19 preparation.