The Allahabad High Court on May 19, 2020, heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL); claiming that the Uttar Pradesh Government is permitting the use of “Sodium Hypochlorite” as a disinfectant on people. Notably, as per an advisory, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India prohibited its use.
Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare’s Advisory
The Directorate General of Health Services under the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had issued an advisory, strongly recommending against the spraying of the said chemical compound on individuals or groups. The Advisory stated-
- Under any circumstances, spraying of Sodium hypochlorite is inadvisable. Spraying an individual or group with chemical disinfectants is physically and psychologically harmful.
- Even in case of potential exposure of a person to the COVID-19 virus; spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus that has entered your body. Also, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they are effective; even in disinfecting the outer clothing/body in an effective manner.
- Also, spraying of chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin; and potentially lead to nausea and vomiting. Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat, respiratory tract; and may also cause bronchospasm.
- Therefore, use of such measures may, in fact, lead to a false sense of disinfection & safety and actually hamper public observance to hand washing and social distancing measures.
The Petition Against Spraying Of Sodium Hypochlorite
The plea states that:
- “Firstly, on 23 April, Sandeep of Alimau village, Uttar Pradesh, who was working as a cleaning staff at Village Panchayat Sirathu Nagar; lost his life while spraying disinfectant in order to prevent corona virus, as he was spraying the disinfectant without any proper preventive kit.
- Secondly, on 29 April at District Bareli, Sodium Hypochlorite was sprayed on several labours (men, women, old-aged and young children); to kill the corona virus which might be present in their body. It is also necessary to point out that this inhuman act of spraying Sodium Hypochlorite; caused severe panic and ill effects over the body of the men, women, old persons and children.
- Thirdly, again on 5 May, it was sprayed on several labours, coming from other places at Charbagh Lucknow.“
Accordingly, the petitioner prayed for issuance of a writ of mandamus; directing to follow the advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Additionally, the petitioner prayed for all the authorities within the State of U.P. to prohibit spray of sodium Hypochlorite on human beings or any other living being.
The Decision By The Court
The counsel for the respondents submitted that the claims made in the writ petition on the basis of which prayers have been made are wholly misconceived and wrong. The court granted the respondents four weeks’ time to file counter affidavit. Accordingly, rejoinder affidavit, if any, to be filed within two weeks. In view of this, the bench of Justices Anil Kumar and Saurabh Lavania has given a month’s time to the State to file its counter affidavit in the matter.