KATHMANDU, May 31: The Supreme Court on Sunday directed government authorities to provide various goods such as hand sanitizers, medical masks and other essentials and medicines to the needy for free.
A division bench of justices Prakash Man Singh Raut and Kumar Regmi ordered the government authorities concerned — the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Health and Population — to provide such goods to the needy people free of cost.
Stating that the right to health has been recognized as a fundamental right in the Constitution, the petitioners maintained that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide such essentials to all needy people as they struggle to keep themselves safe from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The apex court was responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a group of lawyers' including Punya Prasad Khatiwada, seeking the intervention of the Supreme Court in this regard.
Stating that the Constitution has ensured the right to health as a fundamental right and Section 3(4) (C) of Public Health Act, 2018 recognizes such rights as the duty of the state, the apex court directed the government to provide basic medicines such as cetamol, masks and quality hand sanitizer without charging them any cost.
The apex court also directed the authorities to provide adequate food, rest and arrange suitable toilets for those individuals staying in quarantine facilities by maintaining social and physical distancing as per the requirement.
Underlining the need for active service of doctors and nurses who are in the front line to fight COVID-19 and need various medical items including personal protective equipment, the apex court also directed the authorities to provide the frontline workers such uniforms and equipment without charging them any money.