All HC | Awareness over lockup should be the norm: Court grants stay on arrest of persons booked for violating social distancing norms while distributing food packets

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Sunita Agarwal and Saumitra Daya Singh, JJ., granted partial relief to the petitioners booked for violating social distancing norms while distributing food packets.

Petitioners sought quashing of the First Information Report registered for offences under Section 188 and 269 Penal Code, 1860.

The allegation in the FIR is that the protocol of social distancing has not been followed by the crowd of 8-10 people who were at a public place and the petitioners against whom the FIR has been filed were members of the said crowd.

Bench on noting the above facts and circumstances, stated that it does not find any allegation of an untoward incident happening.

Further the Court added that, there is no doubt that the denizens of the city are under obligation to follow the protocol of social distancing in collective fight of the country with pandemic Covid-19. Every person is responsible to be aware of the protocol and see that other follow it strictly.

However, in Court’s opinion, restraining the said persons who for some reason violated the protocol of social distancing may further aggravate the Corona crisis.

“Create awareness and consciousness amongst people rather than putting them in jails or lockups which are already over crowded.”

Petitioners stand is that they were distributing the food packets amongst the poor persons in the locality during the lockdown and in the course of the said distribution suddenly some people were collected on the spot.

Thus, Court held that the petitioners should be granted one opportunity to mend themselves and in therefore they shall file an undertaking stating that they will follow all norms and protocol of COVID-19 and will not breach them in future.

“petitioners shall not be arrested in the aforesaid case till submission of the police report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C. provided they cooperate with the investigation.”

In view of the above, petition was disposed of. [Munna v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 810 , decided on 19-06-2020]

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