COVID 19 | Lockdown | Kar HC extends operation of interim orders, bail orders, abeyance of eviction orders, etc. till 5th June; directs State to immediately step in for identifying vulnerable sections

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, CJ and B. V. Nagarathna, J. referring to it’s earlier order dated 13-04-2020 addressed the present petition and certain significant issues in the view of COVID 19 situation have been noted with regard to compliance of the same.

With regard to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) supplying food and rendering the services, a circular has been issued by the  Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Government of Karnataka, and Member of the Committee directing all the Deputy Commissioners to co- ordinate the activities of NGOs for COVID-19 and also the volunteers at the district level and municipal level. 

Nodal officers at the district level to be appointed to co-ordinate with the NGOs and to identify  a lead NGO to co-ordinate with other NGOs was stated in the Circular issued by the Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department on 15-04-2020.

Individual willing to supply food, either cooked food or in the form of ration kits are also plenty in number in the State. 

Court asked the State Government to create a machinery or mechanism so that the individuals could submit their willingness to provide cooked food and ration kits.

“Government must come out with an appropriate mechanism so that maximum advantage can be taken by the Government of those individuals who are willing to provide food.”

Plight of people belonging to the vulnerable sections of the society and marginalized sections of the society which consists of migrants, homeless persons, destitutes, sex workers, etc. who do not have a shelter, was considered.

For the above, it was stated that State Government has taken a policy decision that unless a person produces a ration card issued by the State Government or any other State, rations will not be provided through the public distribution system.

Another policy decision was with regard to vulnerable poor households and migrant workers with shelter would be provided dry ration or cooked food, as the case may be. State Government for the said stated that, identification of the people needing food or shelter or both would be done by the Revenue Department with the support of the respective Gram Panchayats or the respective local bodies in the districts.

State needs to elaborate on the quantum of dry ration or cooked food. State Government will also have to co-ordinate with the suppliers of LPG Cylinder so that provision for supply of dry ration becomes really effective.

On the above aspect, State Government must respond on the next date.

“… task of identification of those people who are in need of food must be undertaken by the State and other authorities/instrumentalities on a war footing.”

Further the Court noted that, BBMP has not evolved any mechanism to identify vulnerable sections of the society. The response received from them was that Marshals have been deployed but how many such people have been so far identified cannot be told yet.

Even after 22 days of lockdown, BBMP did not come out with any plan to identify the vulnerable sections of people. Thus, State government is directed to immediately step in and ensure that BBMP complies with its statutory obligations as well as the obligations under the directions issued contained in Circular dated 11-04-2020.

Further, the Bench directed the State government to co-ordinate with BBMP officers and submit a detailed report about the compliance made by BBMP with the directions in the Circular dated 11th April, 2020.

“Considering the seriousness of the situation within the city, now the State Government must step in.”

State Government will take a serious note of the fact that even after completion of 22 or 23 days of lockdown, BBMP has no plan or no scheme in place to identify the vulnerable sections of people to whom the BBMP was under an obligation to extend relief as provided in the Circular dated 11th April, 2020.

Lastly, extending the period of one month contained in directions (i) to (iii) of its order dated 24th March, 2020, the High Court directed that now the interim orders, bail orders due to expire will operate till 5th June, 2020. Also, eviction/dispossession/demolition orders already passed will remain in abeyance till 5th June, 2020.[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 425 , decided on 16-04-2020]

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