The court rebuked the government for placing unverified data before it on oath.
The HC clarified that the proceeding was not a fact-finding exercise. But the court said that it wants correct data and an honest version from the state government.
During a hearing of the suo motu PIL on Covid-19 cases, Justice B D Karia of the division bench said that according to the state government’s April 19 affidavit, there should be 100 functioning RT-PCR machines. But the new report on Monday evening stated that after an increase, the total number of functioning machines is 72. The judge said, “There seems to be some problem with information placed before us. What is the correct thing?” The judge went on to say: “If today’s statement is correct then what you had stated on April 19 was not correct.”
Chief Justice Vikram Nath immediately commented, “This is not to please us. If you have information, just tell us. There is no point in hiding information.”
The high court also questioned the government on the reduction in testing numbers, to which the government law officer tried to explain that the number of tests keeps changing every day. Advocate Percy Kavina representing the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association (GHAA) said there were complaints from rural areas that people were being turned away because of a testing kit paucity. Justice Karia said that all districts have such complaints.
The advocate general defended the discrepancy in the data by arguing that since information is gathered from all corners of the state in a very short time, mistakes occur. The crisis is unprecedented, the advocate general said. “We are not trying to fudge figures or hide them,” he explained. To this, the CJ said, “We are not into fact-finding, but we want correct data, an honest version before the court, what is the present status.” The CJ also asked the government to remain careful in this regard in the future and give the exact numbers in its next affidavit.