Bihar government’s reluctance to put COVID death toll in public domain uncalled for: Patna HC

The Patna High Court on Friday observed that the Bihar government’s reluctance to put the state’s COVID death toll in the public domain is uncalled for. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar made the observation while hearing a PIL filed by Shivani Kaushik and others over COVID management.

“For whatever reasons, the state government is most reluctant to put the COVID death toll in the public domain.

“In our considered view, the resistance is uncalled for, for such action is neither protected by any law nor is in consonance with settled principles of good governance,” the court said.

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It said that transparency is the hallmark of good governance, more so in today’s era when both the Centre and the state are committed to making and National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP), 2012 a success.

“As simple as it can be, the issue is whether more than 10 crore people of Bihar have the right to know, on a digital platform, the number of deaths that occurred in the state during COVID-19 and whether the government has a corresponding duty to disclose either voluntarily or as mandated by law,” the court said.

Bihar had earlier this month revised its death toll from 5,424 to 9,375 by adding 3,951 unreported fatalities.

The court also asked the state government to sensitise the people, particularly in rural areas, about their right to obtain information online.

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