Delhi HC directs Centre to decide on representation over draft Health Data Management Policy

New Delhi, September 3: The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Central government to decide the representation of a petitioner on the draft Health Data Management Policy under the National Digital Health Mission. The bench was hearing a petition filed by disability rights defender Doctor Satender Singh, who was represented by advocates Rajshekhar…

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Central government to decide the representation of a petitioner on the draft Health Data Management Policy under the National Digital Health Mission.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan clarified that the issues of the inadequacy of the consultation process would be decided if it is challenged after the framing of policy.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by disability rights defender Doctor Satender Singh, who was represented by advocates Rajshekhar Rao, Vrinda Bhandari, and Sanjana Srikumar.

The petitioner said that the consultation for the Draft Health Data Management Policy does not ensure effective public participation as the time period for the consultation is only fifteen days; and the Draft Policy has been circulated only through the internet, to the exclusion of other media, and only in English, to the exclusion of other languages.

The plea sought to extend the notice period of the consultation of the ‘National Digital Health Mission: Health Data Management Policy’ till the restrictions /lockdowns in place under the Disaster Management Act for COVID-19 pandemic subsist; or for a minimum period of 60 days.

“Issue a Declaration that undertaking any online public consultation process for draft policies or legislation during a public health emergency/crisis, such as COVID-19, without providing alternative arrangements for those excluded on account of language or disability or internet access is illegal and unconstitutional,” the plea said.

The petitioner also said notice inviting Consultation dated August 26, 2020, issued by the respondent is unreasonably short, illegal, null and void.

The respondents have provided only 15 days, till September 10, 2020, to the public, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, to submit their response through an online form, uploaded on the National Digital Health Mission’s official website.

The original notice for consultation had provided eight days, till September 3, 2020, which was suddenly changed and extended to September 10, 2020, without any specific public announcement on August 31, 2020, reflecting the respondents’ implied acknowledgement of the unduly short time period given initially, the plea said. (ANI)

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