COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued new guidelines today for opening up of more activities in areas outside the Containment Zones. In Unlock 4, which will come into effect from September 1, 2020, the process of phased re-opening of activities has been extended further. The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central Ministries and Departments.

Salient features of the new guidelines

  • Metro rail will be allowed to operate with effect from 7th September 2020 in a graded manner, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA)/ Ministry of Railways (MOR), in consultation with MHA. In this regard, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be issued by MOHUA.
  • Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, with effect from 21st September 2020. However, such limited gatherings can be held with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.
  • Open air theatres will be permitted to open with effect from 21st September 2020.
  • After extensive consultation with States and UTs, it has been decided that Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity up to 30th September 2020. Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged. However, following will be permitted, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, with effect from 21st September 2020 for which, SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW):
    1. States/ UTs may permit upto 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to the schools at a time for online teaching/ tele- counselling and related work.
    2. Students of classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, on voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to written consent of their parents/ guardians.
    3. Skill or Entrepreneurship training will be permitted in National Skill Training Institutes, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Short term training centres registered with National Skill Development Corporation or State Skill Development Missions or other Ministries of Government of India or State Governments.

National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) and their training providers will also be permitted.

  • Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and post-graduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory/ experimental works. These will be permitted by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) in consultation with MHA, based on the assessment of the situation, and keeping in view incidence of COVID-19 in the States/ UTs.
  • All activities, except the following, shall be permitted outside containment zones:
  1. Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres (excluding open air theatre) and similar places.
  2. International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by MHA.
  • Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the Containment Zones till 30th September, 2020.
  • Containment Zones shall be demarcated by the District authorities at micro level after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW with the objective of effectively breaking the chain of transmission. Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed.
  • Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.
  • These Containment Zones will be notified on the websites of the respective District Collectors and by the States/ UTs and information will also be shared with MOHFW.

States not to impose any local lockdown outside Containment Zones

State/ UT Governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City/ village level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government.

No restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement

  • There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

National Directives for COVID-19 management

  • National Directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, with a view to ensure social distancing.  Shops will need to maintain adequate physical distancing among customers. MHA will monitor the effective implementation of National Directives.

Protection for vulnerable persons

  • Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

Use of Aarogya Setu

  • The use of Aarogya Setu mobile application will continue to be encouraged.

Click here to see MHA Guidelines

Click here to see D.O Letter

Read the guidelines here: UNLOCK-4 GUIDELINES


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 29-08-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Centre has asked the States that there should be no restrictions imposed on the inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods and services during the present prevailing Unlock-3 guidelines.

In a communication to Chief Secretaries of all States, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that it has been reported that local level restrictions on movement are being imposed by various districts/States.  Such restrictions are creating problems in the inter-State movement of goods and services and are impacting the supply chain, resulting in disruption of economic activities and employment, besides affecting the supply of goods and services.

The MHA has said such restrictions at the local level imposed by District Administrations or by States, amount to a violation of the guidelines issued by the MHA under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Drawing attention to the MHA’s Order dated July 29, 2020, specifying Guidelines for Unlock-3, the communication reiterates that there shall be no restriction on inter-State and Intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

This includes the movement of persons and goods for cross land border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 22-08-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs, in a letter to Union Higher Education Secretary, today permitted conduct of examinations by Universities and Institutions.

The final Term Examinations are to be compulsorily conducted as per the UGC Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities; and as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) approved by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 06-07-2020]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

Ministry of Home Affairs issues notification stating that the Central Government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.

Thus, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, Centre declared that whole of the said State to be a ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30th June, 2020 for the purpose of that Act.

NOTIFICATION


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Notification dt. 30-06-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs Order the following amendment in the guidelines on lockdown measures for strict implementation by Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State/UTs and State/ Union Authorities:

Amendment 

In para 2 (i), ‘domestic air travel passengers’ is deleted from the list of prohibited activities. Detailed guidelines of airports and air travel passengers, will be issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Access the Order here:

MHA ORDER


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Order dt. 20-05-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, CJ and Arijit Banerjee, J., asked MHA and State Government of West Bengal to filed their reports on mismanagement of COVID-19 situation in West Bengal State.

Grievance of the petitioner was with regard to the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 situation in State of West Bengal.

Senior Advocate, Y.J. Dastoor appearing for the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted that a team from the Ministry is preparing to visit West Bengal in order to inspect the situation.

Advocate General, Kishore Dutta appearing for the State submitted that earlier a Central team had visited and spent several weeks inspecting various areas. In view of the same, there is no necessity for the Central team to visit, as otherwise it would be a roving enquiry.

Y.J. Dastoor, Senior Advocate, responding to the above, stated that earlier Central Team was inter-ministerial, however, now it will be consisting of members from Ministry of Home Affairs.

Bench thus, asked the MHA and State Government to file its report in view of the above stated mismanagement of COVID-19 situation on or before the next date of hearing.

Further the Court also added that, if any team from the Ministry of Home Affairs visits this State, the same shall be on its own volition and not pursuant to any order of this Court.

Matter to be listed on 26-05-2020.[Kabir Shankar Bose v. State of W.B., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 936 , decided on 19-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

In continuation of the revised consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures dt. 17.05.2020, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued revised Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) on movement of stranded workers by trains.

The SOPs allow movement of stranded workers by trains as under:

  • Ministry of Railways (MoR) would permit Movement of Shramik Special trains in consultation with MHA.
  • All States/ UTs should designate nodal authorities and make necessary arrangements for receiving and sending such stranded persons.
  • Based on the requirements of States/UTs, the train schedule, including stoppages and destination would be finalized by MoR. The same would be communicated by MoR to the States/UTs for making suitable arrangements for sending and receiving such stranded workers.
  • Publicity of train schedule, protocols for entry and movement of passengers, services to be provided in coaches, and arrangements with States/UTs for booking of tickets would be done by MoR.
  • Sending States/ UTs and MoR would ensure that all passengers are compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board the train.
  • Social distancing to be observed by all passengers during boarding and travel.
  • On arrival at their destination, the travelling passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination State/ UT.

Click here to see the Official Communication to the States/UTs


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 19-05-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

In continuation of Ministry of Home Affairs Orders No.40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 1st May 2020 and in exercise of the powers, conferred under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, the undersigned, in his capacity as Chairperson, National Executive Committee, hereby issues Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs), for movement of Indian Nationals stranded outside the country and of specified persons to travel abroad, as Annexed herewith, to Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State/Union Territory Governments and State /Union Territory Authorities with the directions for its strict implementation.

To read the SOPs, please follow the link below:

Standard Operating Protocol


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Order dt. 05-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

MHA holds a Comprehensive Review Meeting on the Lockdown situation in wake of spread of COVID-19

 (MHA) held a comprehensive review meeting on the lockdown situation on 29-04-2020.

It was noted that there have been tremendous gains and improvement in the situation because of the lockdown till now. To ensure that the gains of the lockdown are not squandered away, the lockdown guidelines must be observed strictly till 3rd May.

New guidelines to fight COVID-19 will come into effect from 4th May, which would give considerable relaxations to many districts. Details regarding this would be communicated in the days to come.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 29-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord), under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has issued an advisory on secure use of ZOOM Meeting Platform by private individuals. This advisory states that the platform is not for use by Government officers/officials for official purposes.

The document makes reference to earlier advisories of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team(Cert-In) and states that Zoom is not a safe platform. The guidelines have been issued to safeguard private individuals who would still like to use the platform for private purposes.

The broad objective of this advisory is to prevent any unauthorized entry into a Zoom Conference Room and  prevent the unauthorized participant to carry out malicious attacks on the terminals of other users in the conference.

The details of protective measures to be taken by individuals may be accessed in the document attached at this link.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 16-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Goutam Bhaduri, JJ. addressed the petition along with the intervention application questioning the Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited’s order to take steps for initiating preparations to operate liquor shops in the State.

Issue in the present matter is with regard to the constitution of a committee to take steps for initiating preparations to operate the liquor shops throughout the State of Chhattisgarh.

Petitioner and Intervenor’s counsel submitted that Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs has not granted any relaxation allowing the State Government to operate the liquor shops during the lockdown period as notified by the National Disaster Management Authority on 24-03-2020 and by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Neither the State Government nor the Marketing Corporation had the authority to take steps to operate the liquor shops for the reason that no such relaxation for operation of liquor shops had been granted either by the National Disaster Management Authority or the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Court noted that,

State Government decided to extend ban on sale of liquor through retail shops/bar licence till 14.04.2020 when the lock-down notification issued by the Central Government remains in force. If the Marketing Corporation’s order dated 02.04.2020 was in contemplation of an order by the State Government allowing operation of liquor shops after 07.04.2020, the same having not happened, the Corporation’s order dated 02.04.2020 cannot be allowed to remain intact. Therefore, it deserves to be and is hereby quashed.

Bench disposed of the petition as well as as the intervention application while reserving the liberty in favour of the State government to take decision in the matter based on the proposed fresh lockdown notification to be issued by the NDMA or MHA, as the case may be. [Mamta Sharma v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 55, decided on 13-04-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Y.K. Sinha (Information Commissioner) while forwarding the present case to UP State Information asked for the disposal of the same as the information sought is regarding the number of encounters and number of people who had died in such encounters from April 2017 to May 2018 in Uttar Pradesh.

The present application was filed seeking the number of encounters and number of people who had died in encounters in Uttar Pradesh during April 2017 to May 2018.

Details of persons that were killed in encounters from 2012 to May 2018:

a. Name of the person killed b. Caste c. District d. Thana e. Date of Encounter f. Name of the officer carrying out the Encounters and his caste g. Details of the provisions of IPC under which charges were leveled against the deceased.

All of the above information had been sought from the PIO, but no information was received even after the first appeal and thereafter, the present second appeal was filed.

The appellant had prayed that the correct jurisdictional authority be determined which would provide him the information sought as the application had been transferred several times but till date, no response was received.

Thus, the Commission on noting the above, stated that custodian of the information was the UP State Government. Since the subject matter falls outside the purview of the Central list and pertains to the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Registrar of this Commission is directed that the aforesaid case be forwarded to the UP State Information Commission, Lucknow. [Gajender Singh Yadav v. PIO/Mo/Home Affairs, 2020 SCC OnLine CIC 83, decided on 14-02-2020]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

In furtherance to the Government of India’s policy of zero tolerance for crime and in an endeavor to fast track the dispensation of justice, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has taken steps to enhance and streamline the process of international mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

The MHA has issued Revised Guidelines for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters in December 2019. The revised guidelines can be accessed here.

The revised guidelines provide step-by-step guidance to the investigation agencies for drafting and processing Letters Rogatory / Mutual Legal Assistance Requests and Service of Summons, Notices & other Judicial Documents. By incorporating various legal and technological developments in recent years, it aims to make the documentation in this regard more precise and focused as well as compliant with International requirements.

The guidelines have also taken into account the concerns raised by various courts for prompt and timely responses in the service of documents on persons residing abroad. As an initiative, the revised guidelines have provision for service of documents on authorities of foreign country preferably within 10 days of receipt of request in respect of offences committed against women and children.

Training in mutual legal assistance in criminal matters has also been taken up for investigators, prosecutors and judicial officers.

The transnational nature of crime and the digital explosion has blurred geographical boundaries for criminal activities.  The availability of evidence and criminals outside the sovereign jurisdiction of countries has necessitated the transformation of scope and nature of the conventional investigation.

India has entered into Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties/ Agreements with 42 countries and is a signatory to various international conventions i.e. UNCAC, UNTOC, etc. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the designated ‘Central Authority’ for India. Generally, assistance is sought and received in the form of Mutual Legal Assistance Requests/Letters Rogatory and Service of Summons/Notices/Judicial documents on persons residing abroad.

In order to streamline the process of rendering/ seeking such assistance, MHA had issued guidelines regarding investigation abroad & issue of Letters Rogatory (LRs) in 2007 & regarding Service of Summons/Notices/ Judicial process on the persons residing abroad in 2009.

Over the decade, there have been substantial changes in International Cooperation based on new legislation, regulations & conventions and amendments in procedural laws all over the world including India. These changes necessitated the need for a comprehensive review of existing guidelines to keep them abreast of the modern era’s requirements.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 08-01-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by Economic Times, the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the Bureau of Police Research and Development is considering amendments to the criminal laws of the country. The laws under consideration for amendment are Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Evidence Act, 1872.

Some of the proposals being looked at are:

  1. Diluting the right of appeal to avoid inordinate delays in certain cases, like the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, where the convicts are using legal remedies to seek relief from capital punishment. A ministry official clarified that any amendments to CrPC or revision process would be legally examined as the Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 1970 confers to the Supreme Court the power to hear an appeal from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a high court for certain cases.
  2. Adopting certain features of the inquisitorial system which is followed in Germany and France to make the current adversarial system more effective. For example, in the inquisitorial system, the investigation is supervised by the judicial magistrate which leads to a higher rate of conviction
  3. Classifying crimes as blue-collar, white-collar, red-collar, green-collar and black-collar crimes under Penal Code, 1860 to equip the police to deal with complex dynamics of internal security.
  4. Setting up modus operandi bureaus at national and state levels to study the technique of crimes and mentality of criminals.
  5. Setting up of National Police University and Forensic Science University with affiliated colleges in every state. This was suggested by Home Minister, Amit Shah to create skilled manpower to tackle complex cases with advanced forensic capabilities instead of the use of third-degree and torture to solve cases.

A home ministry official said that the new laws should be in accordance with the democratic aspirations of people and provide speedy justice to women, children and weaker sections of society. Suggestions have been sought from all states and union territories, the official added.


[Source: Economic Times]

Hot Off The PressNews

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai, in a written reply to a question regarding details on mob lynching cases, in Lok Sabha today, said that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not maintain data with respect to mob lynching. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued advisories to States and UTs, from time to time, to maintain law and order and ensure that any person who takes the law into his/her own hand is punished promptly as per law.

The Minister informed that advisories dated 23.07.2018 and 25.09.2018 were issued to the State Governments/UT Administrations for taking measures to curb incidents of mob lynching in the country. In addition to this, the Government, through audio-visual media, has also generated public awareness to curb the menace of mob lynching. The Government has also sensitized the service providers to take steps to check the propagation of false news and rumours having the potential to incite mob violence and lynching.

Shri Rai stated that an advisory dated 04.07.2018 was issued to the States and UTs by MHA, to keep watch on circulation of fake news and rumours having the potential of inciting violence, take all required measures to counter them effectively and to deal firmly with persons taking law into their own hands. Further, the Ministry has also issued an advisory on 09.08.2016 to all States/UTs for taking prompt and strict action against miscreants who take law into their own hands in the name of protection of cow.

‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India and State Governments are responsible for prevention, detection, registration and investigation of crime and for prosecuting the criminals through their law enforcement agencies, Shri Rai added.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 19-11-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava allowed a second appeal for information regarding mercy petition on the grounds that file notings and correspondence sent and received by Ministry of Home Affairs does not form a part of ministerial advice.

In the instant case, an application was filed by the appellant under Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to seek information on several points pertaining to mercy petition of her son, who was a death row convict lodged at Yerwada Central Jail. The appellant filed a second appeal as CPIO denied information under Article 74(2) of the Constitution of India and there was no response to her first appeal.

Learned counsel, Ragni Ahuja, on behalf of the appellant contended that information pertaining to ministerial advice is protected under Article 74(2) of Constitution of India. But since the information sought by the appellant did not pertain to Article 74, she had been wrongly denied the said information. The counsel relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1, where the Court allowed the disclosure of not only correspondence but also notings by high constitutional functionaries, so the appellants requested the commission to direct the respondent to provide complete information. 

Learned counsel, Hari Mohan Jha, on behalf of the respondent contended that recommendations along with all documents lead to the formation of ministerial advice to the President of India is privileged under Article 74(2) of the Constitution and the same cannot be disclosed under RTI Act. The counsel relied on the case Union of India v. Central Information Commission, 2009 SCC OnLine Del 879, in which the commission gave directions for disclosure of information relating to correspondence between the former President of India and the then Prime Minister relating to Gujarat riots was set aside.

The Commission opined that file notings and correspondence received or sent by Ministry of Home Affairs pertaining to appellant’s mercy petition does not form a part of the ministerial advice to the President, and the file notings of the mercy petition filed could be provided to the appellant. The Commission observed that the file noting and the correspondence contained the names of the officials recording the same, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of those officials and hence its disclosure was exempted under Section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act. Relying on S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1, it directed the respondent to provide the information sought after severing all the names and other references which could reveal the identities of the public officials concerned.[Ujwala Kokde v. CPIO, Second Appeal No. CIC/MHOME/A/2017/609431, decided on 12-06-2019]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In a major development with regard to the ongoing struggle between the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, the Lieutenant Governor and the Union of India with regard to the Notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs dated 21.05.2015, which directed the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi, to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the Central Government, to the extent delegated to him from time to time by the President as per the provisions of Articles 239 and 239AA (3)(a) of the Constitution, in respect of matters connected with ‘Public Order’, ‘Police’, ‘Land’ and ‘Services’, the Division Bench of A.K. Sikri and U.U. Lalit, JJ., observed that the opinion of the Delhi High Court in Anil Kumar v. GNCT, Delhi, Bail Appln. 878/2015, terming the MHA Notification as ‘suspect’ was tentative in nature and was not a decision upon the validity of the Notification as the Union of India was not a party to the suit. The Court further added that the Delhi High Court can deal with the issue separately without being influenced by the opinion given in Anil Kumar case.

In addition to the Supreme Court’s above-mentioned Order, the Delhi High Court while hearing upon the writ petition W.P.(C) 5888/2015 filed by the GNCT of Delhi challenging the impugned Notification issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, sought to end the stalemate situation prevailing with regard to the authority of the Lieutenant Governor in matters of transfer and posting of public servants. Rajiv Shakdher, J. passed an interim Order stating that the Lieutenant Governor would be authorized to deliberate and take decisions regarding the transfer and posting of public servants and can seek further clarifications upon the matter from the Council of Ministers. The matter shall be further heard by the High Court on 11.08.2015. Union of India v. Government of NCT of Delhi, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 526, decided on 29.05.2015

 

Hot Off The Press

The Central Government in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 5 (1); of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 constituted the “Unlawful Activities Tribunal” consisting of Hon’ble Mr. Justice G.P. Mittal, a sitting Judge of the High Court of Delhi for the purpose of adjudicating whether or not there is sufficient cause for declaring the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as an ‘Unlawful Association’.

To read the full Notification, click here