Andhra Pradesh High Court, Amravati: A Division Bench of J.K. Maheshwari, CJ and M. Satyanarayana Murthy, J. issued interim measures considering certain aspects in view of the nationwide lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Various contingencies have been reported to the Registry of the Court regarding the access to the boundaries of State of Andhra Pradesh by permanent residents of this State on account of their release by Telangana State, with no objections by doctors working in Primary Health Centres and to review functioning of the Court — Court deems it appropriate to take up the matter as pro bono publico with intent to avoid complications.
Further Court is also of the view that health of a citizen is with purview of Article 21 guaranteed to a citizen to live in healthy atmosphere.
Bench considering the various aspects in the present situation of lockdown in which citizens are not permitted to approach the Court, it deems fit to issue the following directions:
- All the cases in which interim orders were passed by the High Court, District Courts, Civil Courts, Family Courts, Labour Courts, Industrial and other Tribunals, functioning in the State of Andhra Pradesh, over which the High Court has the power of superintendence and the stay has expired two weeks prior or are due to expire within a period of one month, shall continue to operate for a further period of one month from today.
- In criminal matters where bail/suspension has been granted by the Court either anticipatory or regular for a limited period, which are likely to expire within one month from today, shall be automatically extended for a further period of one month from today;
- In the matters in which demolition, dispossession, eviction, auction is in question, in those cases, if limited stay is granted, it be treated to be extended for one month or otherwise, the instrumentalities shall not proceed for the above until one month from today;
- In the matters of tenders, if they have not been finalized, they shall not be given effect to for a period of one month and the process may be made after expiry of the lock-down period.
- As this Court feels that the citizens are not in a position to reach the Court on account of lock-down of the boundaries and surveillance by the Police, however, for redressal of their grievance, we have been developing a URL, which shall be notified by Registrar General. Publishing URL in the official website of the High Court for e-filing to Advocates is only with regard to genuine grievances. They may submit their petitions by way of e-mail, viz., firstname.lastname@example.org on the same lines till then.On submission of the petitions, the Government may submit their objections and they shall be considered for the purpose of interim relief by the High Court through the Benches constituted by the Chief Justice, by way of Video Conference and if necessary opportunity of personal hearing may be offered on demand. Otherwise, interim relief may be considered on the facts and circumstances of the case;
- State Government is directed to ensure and provide all necessary equipment like N-95 masks, sterile medical gloves, starch apparels, personal protection equipment and all other necessary things to the Doctors in the dispensaries and other Paramedical staff, thereby they may be in a position to provide medical aid to the citizens;
- Issue regarding entry on boundaries of the State of Andhra Pradesh is concerned, it is directed that no mass gathering shall be allowed by the authorities of both the States. Officers of both the States shall follow National Protocol or otherwise looking to the peculiar situation in which the citizens of the State of Andhra Pradesh have been left over by the Telangana State, to go to their homes, taking due steps for quarantine process, by staying at their homes through such undertaking, on necessary tests, the National Protocol shall be observed by them. In any case, care of females with children and pregnant women must be undertaken by the authorities with humanity; however, officers of both the States shall observe National Protocol applying exceptional circumstances with due care.
- As per the resolution of the committee formulated by the Supreme Court, dated 26.03.2020, it is directed that the convicts or under-trial offenders for the offences to which maximum sentence prescribed is not more than (7) years, may be released on interim bail on furnishing adequate bail bonds if they are not second offenders and also not offenders under Section 376 of IPC and POCSO Act, for a period of one month.
- The undertaking shall be taken from them for having quarantine for 14 days at their home under the surveillance of the Doctor with the help of the Police. Violation of conditions would entail cancellation of the interim bail/suspension and such persons who violate the conditions may be taken to custody immediately;
- As stated by the Director of Social Welfare, Ms Kritika Shukla, that limited number of inmates are in the remand homes, however, due care and caution be taken for social distancing to those children in the remand homes. The said social distancing must be maintained in the CCIs., and SAAs., in the State.
- In the case of health checkup, the State shall protect the confidentiality regarding patients and the poor patients shall not be discriminated with others. It is further to direct that marginalised and poor must have access to healthcare and they should be provided adequate food facilities; thereby they should not sleep with empty stomach in the night;
- Essential items may be made available to the citizens as specified in the circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs dated 24.03.2020 specifying the protocol to those vendors;
- The Police, Doctors, paramedical staff and other persons engaged in these days may be provided adequate facilities on account of rendering emergent services by them.
- Because of the fact that flights, trains have been stopped and the road transportation has also been checked due to lock-down, but in the State of Andhra Pradesh, there is a coastal area, where ships are coming to the ports, however, due care and caution as directed by the Central Government must be taken by the authorities in the ports at Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Machilipatnam, Kalingapatnam and other sea ports and the port authorities are directed to take special measures in this regard in coordination with the State authorities.
The above stated directions will remain in force for a period of 1 month. [In Re. Corona Virus — COVID-19 Pandemic v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine AP 64, decided on 26-03-2020]