14 Days Quarantine Period Not Mandatory In Each Case, It Is Meant To Serve A General Guideline: Delhi HC

Case Name: Amit Bhargava vs. The State (NCT of Delhi) ;W.P.(C) 3016/2020

The present order has come in a PIL challenging the arbitrary and unreasonable calculation of the home quarantine period by the Delhi Government.
The Petitioner is one of the 72 people identified in the contact tracing conducted for a food delivery person who tested positive for COVID19 on 14.4.2020. He also admits that he had only one point of contact with the infected individual, i.e. at midnight on 24.03.2020/25.03.2020. The Petitioner submitted that it has been over 30 days since the first and last point of contact, yet, the Petitioner remains in home quarantine, despite the stipulated time period of 14 days from contact having lapsed. Further , The Petitioner said that authorities had arbitrarily put up two home quarantine notices at Petitioner’s house, calculating the 14 days quarantine period from 15th and 17th April respectively, which the Petitioner argues is against both the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as well as WHO.Therefore, he wanted the court to quash the Warning Notice dated 20.04.2020 issued by the District Magistrate (South), Govt. of NCT of Delhi as being violative of the principles of natural justice and the principle of audi alteram partem and appropriately amend the format of its Home Quarantine Notice to reflect date of contact with infected person/ reason for quarantine, date and time of imposition of quarantine and date and time for end of quarantine.

Observations of the Court

The court rejected the Petitioner’s claim regarding violation of principles of natural justice by noting that the District Magistrate’s notice, dated April 20, was merely a notice issued pursuant to complaints against the Petitioner, and directing him to desist from breaching the quarantine imposed on him. However, all notices, placing persons under home quarantine, have necessarily to indicate the period of home quarantine as well as the date from which it is to commence’, the court highlighted. On the issue of the quarantined person in need to get in touch with the authorities in case of an exigency, the court took into consideration the response submitted by the government which states that there’s a helpline number which the quarantined person can dial during an exigency. The said number will also be displayed on the official website.‘The COVID19 virus is, presently, not known to subscribe to the dictates either of arithmetic or of logic’, the Bench stated. Thus, Delhi High Court has noted that the period of 14 days, as stipulated in the Home Quarantine Guidelines of March 14 and the COVID19 Regulations of 2020, are not mandatory, but is intended to serve a general guideline

By Priyanka of SPPU