ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court dismissed on Friday a plea against the conversion of hotels into quarantine facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minullah had earlier reserved judgement on the plea, which was filed after the National Disaster Management Authority issued orders to turn three-star and four-star hotels into quarantine centres.
The court, in its written order, maintained that these are extra-ordinary times in which public interests supersede the individual rights.
In the petition, the applicant argued that the NDMA is not authorized to take such a decision and the government should utilize places owned by it rather than turning to private properties.
“Why does the government not use the prime minister’s home instead?” said the petitioner.
In response to the petition, the IHC judge said that the government is taking measures for the protection of its people. “How can the court interfere then?” he remarked.
“When it comes to protecting the people, the government can even use my home,” he further said.
To which the petitioner’s lawyer said that if even if a constitutional emergency is invoked, fundamental rights cannot be suspended.
The lawyer said that due to the coronavirus outbreak, hotel staff have been on leave since March 28.
The judge suggested that if the petitioner thinks the decision will cause damage to hotels, he can make a claim later on.
The NDMA had earlier ordered that hotels across Pakistan need to be utilized as quarantine centres in case of an emergency, following which a private hotel had challenged the decision.
The petition had nominated the home secretary, secretary health, NDMA chairman and the chief commissioner Islamabad.