COVID 19 | Kar HC | Media to ensure that Court’s order are not misinterpreted or misquoted; Voluntary organisations can distribute food while following social distancing

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, CJ and  and B.V. Nagarathna, J. while dealing with certain issues amid COVID 19 outbreak, noted a very significant point, that,

media must ensure that no part of the stand taken by the State Government or no part of the orders passed by this Court should be misinterpreted or misquoted

In the present petition, the issue brought in is with regard to the Order issued by Kalaburgi District Administration which suggests that organizations distributing food to beggars, needy and homeless are committing violation of prohibitory order under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

In view of the above, it has been sought that the order should be modified in a manner that individuals, voluntary organizations, NGOs, etc. should be permitted to continue with the work of supplying the food to the underprivileged and poorer sections of the society.

Bench observed that,

“Voluntary organizations cannot be prevented from distributing food to the weaker sections of the society so long as they are following the norms of social distancing and taking other precautionary measures.”

Further the Court added to its observations that,

since its first order, Court has been suggesting to the State Government that activities of NGOs need to be coordinated. Thus State government must respond on the stated.

It will be appropriate if the State Government comes out with a direction for convening meetings with NGOs working in the field at various levels so that their activities can be co- ordinated

On a requisition made by the Chairpersons of the DLSAs to the concerned State officials, requisite number of passes shall be issued forthwith to enable the PLVs to perform the duties which are entrusted to them. The Director General of Police may also consider of issuing necessary guidelines to the police authorities to allow the PLVs to do their work on production of the certificates/passes issued by the DLSAs.

With regard to opening of shelter homes, Court stated that, considering the fact that nearly 1/3rd of positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the State are from Bengaluru Urban District, compliance by BBMP with the directions issued by the State Government is of utmost importance.

Another significant observation made through this order by the bench was that,

“… while reporting our orders, the media and in particular, the electronic media has to be very careful. The media must ensure that no part of the stand taken by the State Government or no part of the orders passed by this Court should be misinterpreted or misquoted.”

Cause of confusion and panic can be misrepresentation of the orders of this Court by the media. 

While noting the above observations and asking for State Governments response, the present petition is to be dealt on 16-04-2020. [Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, WP No. 6435 of 2020, decided on 13-04-2020]

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