HC Asks Odisha Govt To File Fresh Affidavit On COVID Deaths; Next Hearing On Sept 7

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over facts furnished by the Odisha government on COVID-19 deaths in the state.

The court has directed the government to file a fresh affidavit with complete data before the next hearing on September 7. This apart, the government has been asked to provide details on vaccination against the virus till August 31.

Notably, the HC on June 23 declined to entertain a petition, seeking an audit into deaths due to the deadly disease in the state, but took up the issue relating to undercounting of fatalities, stating that it was a serious allegation. This was tagged with another pending PIL concerning issues incidental to the outbreak of the pandemic.

The court had noticed inconsistencies in the number of deaths in Nayagarh reported by the chief district medical officer (CDMO) and the state government’s COVID portal as mention in the PIL filed on June 18 by lawyer Nishikant Mishra. While the Nayagarh CDMO’s report mentioned about 97 deaths during the second wave, the COVID dashboard showed only 14 deaths in the district.

The two-judge bench of chief justice S Muralidhar and justice SK Panigrahi then sought a district-wise death count from the government by July 5.

“The AG will inform the court on 5th July, 2021 whether the issue of undercounting of Covid-19 deaths has been enquired into by the additional chief secretary, health… The district wise breakdown of the deaths must be placed before the court on the next date of hearing.”


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