Fact ChecksNews

A social media message has been doing the rounds which reads as follows:

“Mandate To All. Tonight 12 (midnight) onwards Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country. According to this update, apart from the Govt department no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to Coronavirus and it being a punishable offence. Group Admins are requested to post the above update and inform the groups.”

This message has led many Whatsapp admins and other social media group admins to ban members from posting any news or information about COVID-19, even information that can be categorised as helpful or authentic.

Let us test the veracity of these claims. In an order dated 24th March, 2020[1], the National Disaster Management Authority under Section 6 (2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA) gave instructions to departments of Central Government, State Government and State Authorities to take measures to control spread of the disease. The order also directed the National Executive Committee to issue necessary guidelines under Section 10 (2)(l) to that effect. Therefore, we are aware that sections of DMA were invoked to mitigate the risks of the pandemic.

If we look at provisions of DMA, specifically Section 54 which deals with punishment for false claims. This section states that whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to a disaster or its severity or magnitude which leads to panic, will be punishable with imprisonment of upto one year, upon conviction.

This section clearly states that information that is false and what leads to panic is punishable, not all information from verifiable sources.

Another Act to deal with a pandemic of this nature is the Epidemic Act, 1897. Under Section 2 of this Act, state governments and union territories can take special measures and formulate regulations to contain the disease. Section 3 provides that disobedience of any regulations can invite penal provisions under Section 188, Penal Code, 1860. Post this, many state governments have invoked the Epidemic Act including Delhi [2] , Karnataka [3] , Gujarat [4] etc. Under Section 188, Penal Code, 1860  one can be punished only if one disobeys the rules of a public servant (i.e. rules prescribed by various state governments in this case). Nowhere does it mention that one can be punished for a mere discussion on the pandemic.

Similarly, under Section 505 (1)(b), Penal Code, 1860 any person who makes, publishes or circulates information that is likely to cause alarm to the public or is against public tranquility, etc is punishable with imprisonment. Again under the ambit of this section, only that speech is punishable that leads to panic or false alarm and not “all speech”.

Even the Supreme Court in an order dated as recent as 31st March, 2020 [5] , told the media to maintain a strong sense of responsibility and ensure that unverified news capable of causing panic is not disseminated however the Court also stated that it does not intend to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic but directed the media refer to and publish the official version about the developments.” [6]

The Government has far-reaching powers under the Epidemic Act, 1897 and the Disaster Management Act, 2005 however these powers are not meant to intrude upon freedom of speech as long as they are used to disseminate genuine information and not to cause alarm or spread panic among the public.

In conclusion, the message quoted above which has made it’s way in multitude WhatsApp groups is fake. There is no need to worry if genuine and verifiable information, which is the need of the hour, is being shared with the members of a WhatsApp group.


[1]https://ndma.gov.in/images/covid/ndmaorder240320.pdf

[2] https://main.sci.goc.in/pdf/cir/covid19_14032020.pdf (page 3 onwards)

[3] https://www.simpliance.in/files/news/Karnataka%20Epidemic%20Diseases,%20COVID-19%20Regulations,%202020.pdf

[4] https://nrhm.gujarat.gov.in/Portal/News/218_1_Notification-14-03-2020.pdf

[5] Alakh Alok Srivastava v. Union of India, WP(s) (Civil) No(s). 468/2020, order dated 31-03-2020

[6] https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/3/31/coronavirus-covid-19-food-is-being-provided-to-over-22-lakh-migrant-workers-centre-tells-sc/

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court expressed his desire to give some contribution on behalf of Judiciary of the State of Chhattisgarh to the noble cause of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, therefore, all the Judges, Registry Officers and employees of High Court and all the Judicial officers and employees of Sub-ordinate Judiciary of the State of Chhattisgarh are requested to donate one day’s salary to the CM’s Relief Fund for Corona.

Contribution will, however, be on voluntary basis, therefore, those Officers/Officials of High Court who do not wish to contribute may intimate Accounts Officer, High Court of Chhattisgarh.

To read the Circular, please click here:

CIRCULAR


Chhattisgarh High Court

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Pankaj Bhandari, J. while addressing the present petition, held that,

“…at the time of complete lockdown the bail applications, Appeals under SC/ST Act, applications for suspension of sentence cannot be considered to be of extreme urgency.”

Bail applications, Appeals under SC/ST Act, Revisions and Appeals with applications for suspension of sentence were listed in the category of urgent matters.

When the entire country except essential services is under closure, whether the above would fall within the category of extremely urned matters is the question raised.

Rajasthan High Court had issued notification with regard to listing of only urgent matters dated 24-03-2020.

Criminal Appeals under SC/ST Act pertaining to bails effecting service on the complainant before passing any order in favor of the accused is the mandate of the SC/ST Act.

In the present lockdown condition even sending notice through Police personnel may pose risk of spreading COVID-19 as even police personnels have been quarantined.

There is complete closure of public transport hence it cannot and should not be expected from the police personnel that they would leave the emergent task given under the “the Act” to effect service on the complaint.

Bench also observed, that any order passed in favour of petitioner or appellant would be an order adverse to Complainant/State and presently when Lawyers are abstaining from work on account of call given by Bar Council of Rajasthan, Complainant would be deprived of his right to engage a Lawyer and oppose the bail application/ application for suspension of sentence.

Further, the bench stated that, Release of an accused or convict at the cost of breaching order of lockdown and at the cost of risking lives of many cannot be considered to fall within the category of “extremely urgent matter.”

It was also noted from the report of DG Prisons that there is no overcrowding of prisons and regular checkups of the inmates is being done.

Thus, in view of the above, Registrar Judicial is directed not to list Bails, appeals applications for suspension of sentence in Appeals and Revisions in the category of “extreme urgent matters”.[Shahrukh v. State of Rajasthan, SC Criminal Miscellaneous Second Bail Application No. 17767 of 2019, decided on 31-03-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

MHA issues an addendum to lay down SOPs for transit of foreigners stranded in India and release of quarantined persons after being tested COVID-19 negative

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an addendum to the guidelines, and subsequent addendums, to all Ministries/Departments (https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1607997), regarding the Nationwide lockdown to fight Corona Virus.

The addendum lays down SOPs for transit of foreigners stranded in India and release of quarantined persons after being tested COVID-19 negative.

Addendum Document 


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 02-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court, Amaravati: A Division Bench of Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari, CJ and M. Satyanarayana Murthy, J. addressed a Public Interest Litigation with regard to non-cooperation of staff at ASRAM Medical College, Eluru due to non-availability of WHO-approved Personal Protection Equipment.

In the present matter, it was reported that for about 34 patients were brought to ASRAM Medical College, Eluru. Out of those patients, 6 were found to be positive for Corona Virus – COVID 19 and the remaining are suspected to have contracted the virus as per the news item.

On perusal of the above, Court’s concern is that the availability of WHO-approved Personal Protection Equipment for doctors, Para-medical staff in the hospital on duty and treatment facility to the citizens.

The stated news item depicts the staff went on leave or was non-cooperative due to non-availability of PPE.

Court further observed that, directions sought against Union of India to ensure availability of PPE and Hazardous Material Suits as per the recommendations of WHO.

Government Pleader, C. Sumon stated that during the hearing 16 PPEs have been provided to the hospital and staff, however allegation made in the news item as stated above is not correct and patients who have been brought to the hospital are being treated in a rightful manner.

Assistant Solicitor General is also requested to intervene in the present issue.

Court asked the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Eluru and Advocate YMSRN Surya Teja to visit the said hospital and supply the following information:

  • How many patients admitted in the hospital by this time
  • Details of the ward where such patients have been admitted and whether isolation facility is available
  • Who are the Doctors and Para-medical staff on duty to provide medical and other necessary item
  • Whether the patients have been duly treated specifying the prescription and other precaution
  • Whether the Government and the Dean in-charge is providing due care to those Doctors and Para-medical staff as specified in the WHO guidelines by changing their duties and providing them isolation
  • Whether the Corona-positive patients are maintaining distance
  • While submitting the aforesaid information, it be also clarified as to who are the Doctors and the Para-medical staff who were on duty at the time of admission of Corona-positive patients and suspect patients and also the who are the Doctors and Para-medical staff now on duty and treating them

Bench parting with its decision stated that government response in the present matter is also required with regard to the place from where the patients are hailing from and their medical, traveling history. [In Re. Corona Virus-COVID-19 PANDEMIC, Taken up WP (PIL) No. 86 of 2020, decided on 01-04-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ and Ashutosh J. Shastri, J. addressed a suo motu public interest litigation in view of incident of mass congregation in Delhi.

At least 200 members of the said congregation have been reported to traveled to the State of Gujarat who may be infected with COVID-19. News reports have further confirmed death of one person in Gujarat out of a total of 8 deaths all over the country who had participated in the congregation at Delhi.

Further the Court noted that no one knows where all these 200 or more members of the congregation are now based in Gujarat.

Advocate General, Kamal B. Trivedi appearing for State of Gujarat submitted that Government is already in the process of identifying and tracing not only the members of the said congregation having travelled to Gujarat but also the details of other persons coming in close contact with the said members.

Devan Vyas, Assistant Solicitor General, on behalf of union of India, assured the Court that Central Government after collecting necessary data from State of Delhi with regard to the above would share the same with respective states including Gujarat.

High Court in its earlier order had directed the State Government to ensure that no gathering takes place in all the places of worship in the State but that would not mean that daily puja/aarti/service/offering of prayer(namaaz) in these places of worship is to be stopped bu that the same would carried out by the respective managements without making such places open to public.

Advocate General during the present hearing assured that the above would be strictly followed.

In the present hearing, Court issued that Union of India will provide complete information to the State of Gujarat and to the Court in a sealed cover of all those persons irrespective of their nationality who were party to the Tablighi Jamaat and have entered to the State of Gujarat.

Further the State Government shall provide following details:

  • Details provided by Union of India; Steps taken by State of Gujarat.
  • Quarantine, testing and other steps taken by the State in regard to such persons
  • State shall also provide details of those people who have been untraceable
  • Steps taken for the implementation of the restrictions that may have been imposed by the State with respect to gatherings at all worship places such as Temples, Churches, Gurudwaras, Mosques and strict compliance thereof.

Thus in view of the above the Court held that if satisfactory reports will not be submitted then the court will have to issue necessary directions and may take coercive measures.

Matter is to be listed on 03-04-2020.[Suo Motu v. State of Gujarat, R/Writ Petition (PIL) No. 42 of 2020, decided on 01-04-2020]


Also Read:

Government committed to — identify, isolate and quarantine COVID-19 positive Tabligh Jamaat workers in India post their congregation in Nizamuddin, Delhi

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Homemade masks to overcome shortage

Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India has come up with an innovative solution for you: homemade face mask. “This is primarily mend for the people who want to wear mask but do not have access to it. They can make these washable and reusable masks home” says Dr Shailja Vaidya Gupta, Senior Adviser, Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government.

Shortage of face mask and hand sanitizers is a stark reality. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, as anxious public frantically shopped hygiene products, in particular mask and hand sanitizers, the sudden increased supply could not be met by the burgeoning demand.

The Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India issued the manual on homemade masks: “Masks for Curbing the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus” for home fabrication. The key criteria for proposed designs are Ease of Access to Materials, Easy of Making at Home, Ease of Use and Reuse.

 Shops and services are demanding that the customers use face mask. In some shops the patrons are denied services for not using the face mask.  The homemade mask would help people. Many health experts are also suggesting use of face mask in public spaces could reduce the spread of infection. The proposed guide is meant to provide a simple outline to make, use and reuse masks. This manual could be used by NGOs and individuals to self-create such masks and accelerate widespread adoption of use of masks across India.

Protective masks lower the chances of coronavirus entering our respiratory system through droplets that are present in the air. According to a report published in Pub Med analyses show that if 50% of the population were to wear masks, only 50% of the population would be infected by the virus. Once 80% of the population wears a mask, the outbreak can be stopped substantially. Wearing of masks is especially recommended for people living in densely populated areas.

India has pockets of dense population: its mind boggling the density; the North East district of Delhi has a population density of 36,155 per square km, the models and control points for India are out of scale! Masks and washing hands will help and easy to make at home”. said Dr Gupta while speaking with India Science Wire.

The Science and Technology Empowered Committee was constituted on 19th March 2020. The committee is jointly chaired by Prof. Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog and Prof. K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and is responsible for coordination amongst science agencies, scientists, industries and regulatory bodies, and to take speedy decisions on research and development to implementation related to the Sars-Cov-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease.

Download the detailed manual on using and making homemade masks http://bit.ly/DIYMasksCorona


Ministry of Science & Technology

[Press Release dt. 02-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]

 

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has advised CBSE to promote ALL students studying in classes I-VIII to the next class/grade.

In view of the current situation due to COVID-19. He also advised the board students studying in classes IX & XI will be promoted to next class/grade based on the school-based assessments including projects, periodic tests, term exams, etc. conducted so far. The Minister also recommended to conduct board examinations only for 29 main subjects that are required for promotion and maybe crucial for admissions in HEIs, and for rest of the subjects, the Board will not hold examinations; the instructions for marking/assessment in all such cases shall be separately issued by the Board.

As a precautionary measure and in compliance of the instructions received from Ministry of HRD, Government of India, dated 18th March, 2020, CBSE had postponed all the board examinations that were to be held between 19.03.2020 to 31.03.2020. It was informed in the Board’s press release dated 18.3.20 that “date sheets for the rescheduled board examinations shall be communicated by the board through its website and press release after re-assessment of the situation.”

To read the detailed press release, please click the link below:

PRESS RELEASE


Ministry of Human Resource Development

[Press Release dt. 01-04-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court of India while disposing the Writ petitions No. 468/2020 & 469/2020 in public interest for redressal of grievances of migrant labourers in different parts of country has given the following directions –

i) The migrant workers in Relief camps /shelter homes should be provided adequate medical facilities besides proper arrangements for food, clean drinking water and sanitation.

ii) The trained counsellor and/or community group leaders belonging to all faiths will visit the relief camps/shelter homes and deal with any consternation that the migrants might be going through. This shall be done in all the relief camps/shelter homes wherever migrants are located in the country’ A detailed guidelines to deal with psychosocial issues among migrants has been placed on the website of the Ministry at the link https:/ /www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/RevisedPsychosocialissuesofmigrantsCovt D19.pdf

iii) The anxiety and fear of the migrants should be understood by the police and other authorities and they should deal with the migrants in a humane manner.

iv) The state Governments/union Territories should endeavour to engage volunteers along with the police to supervise the welfare activities of the migrants and all concerned to appreciate the trepidation of the poor men, women and children and treat them with kindness.

2. All states are accordingly requested to take necessary action and submit a compliance report to the directions of the Supreme Court.


Government of India

Department of Health and Family Welfare

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

[Dated: 01-04-2020]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

1. Extension of realisation period of export proceeds

Presently value of the goods or software exports made by the exporters is required to be realized fully and repatriated to the country within a period of 9 months from the date of exports. In view of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the time period for realization and repatriation of export proceeds for exports made up to or on July 31, 2020, has been extended to 15 months from the date of export. The measure will enable the exporters to realise their receipts, especially from COVID-19 affected countries within the extended period and also provide greater flexibility to the exporters to negotiate future export contracts with buyers abroad.

2. Review of Limits of Way and Means Advances of States/UTs

Reserve Bank had constituted an Advisory Committee (Chairman: Shri Sudhir Shrivastava) to review the Ways and Means limits for State Governments and Union Territories (UTs). Pending submission of the final recommendations by the Committee, it has been decided to increase WMA limit by 30 percent from the existing limit for all States/UTs to enable the State Governments to tide over the situation arising from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised limits will come into force with effect from April 1, 2020 and will be valid till September 30, 2020.

3. Implementation of countercyclical capital buffer

The framework on countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) was put in place by the Reserve Bank in terms of guidelines issued on February 5, 2015 wherein it was advised that the CCyB would be activated as and when the circumstances warranted, and that the decision would normally be pre-announced. The framework envisages the credit-to-GDP gap as the main indicator, which is used in conjunction with other supplementary indicators. Based on the review and empirical analysis of CCyB indicators, it has been decided that it is not necessary to activate CCyB for a period of one year or earlier, as may be necessary.


Reserve Bank of India

[Press Release dt. 01-04-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Madras High Court: A Division Bench of Dr Vineet Kothari and R. Suresh Kumar, JJ. addressed the present petition with regard to direction being sought to State Government to constitute a committee to allow aphorized medical practitioners to provide relief and help to the people affected by Coronavirus along with preventive measures or treatment in the form of Alternative Medicines.

In the present petition a writ of mandamus was sought directing respondent 1 to 3 to issue appropriate direction to respondent 4 in order to test Indian Traditional Medicine Herbal Mixture (Siddha) for curing COVID-19.

Additional Advocate General Arvind Pandian submitted that a Technical Committee of experts in various fields has already been constituted for the said purpose.

Bench on perusal of the above directed the said Committee to consider all the representations concerned for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and also for other measures like Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic hand sanitizers and other types of Sanitizers, Soaps and Mask of various types which can be provided or supplied to the people at large for meeting the said emergency of COVID-19.

“We hope and expect that the said Committee and State government shall take appropriate decision in the matter as quickly as possible, so that public at large can avail the benefit of the same, immediately”

The matter may be posted after 4 weeks, once the Courts resume after the lockdown. [K. Muthu Kumar Nayakar v. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, WP Now 7416 and 7417 of 2020, decided on 30-03-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of Shaji P. Chaly and A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, JJ. addresed a petition filed by amicus curiae of the Court with regard to provision of shelter and food to migrant workers.

Amicus Curiae Advocate Parvathi Sanjay voiced her apprehension through the present petition with regard to migrant workers of Ernakulam District and Kottayam District and sought direction for provision of food and shelter to them.

Court on perusal of the above issue stated that a statement needs to be filed with regard to the steps being taken in the above regard.

Additional Advocate General, Ranjith Thampan has also been requested to file a statement with regard to the steps being taken by State of Kerala to provide shelter and food to the migrant workers.

Additional Advocate General thus submits that he will file a comprehensive statement on or before 03-04-2020.

Matter has been listed through video conferencing for 03-04-2020. [Order dt. 31-03-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: K.K. Tated, J., granted ad interim relief to Rural Fairprice Wholesale Ltd. from selling the pledged equity shares as the share market has collapsed due to COVID-19 and would have resulted in huge loss to the plaintiffs.

In the present matter, applicant’s sought injunction against respondent’s notice dated 17-03-2020 and sale deed notice dated 18-03-2020 with regard to shares pledged by them with defendant 1 by Debenture Trust Deed.

Senior Counsel for the plaintiffs submitted that outstanding loan payable to defendant 2 of about Rupees 610 crores.

It has been stated that, as per the debenture trust deed as stated above 8% of equity shares was pledged. On the date of debenture trust deed, market value of share was Rs 350 per share.

Due to COVID-19, the market value per share quoted in share market had gone down to below Rs 303.

Relying on clause 6 of the said trust deed, the defendants are secured.

Further it has been stated that if shares are sold in the present situation, it would cause an irreparable loss to the plaintiffs. Therefore Court be pleased to restrain defendant 2 from selling these shares in the market.

Counsel for the defendant vehemently opposed the grant of ad interim relief.

Decision of the Court

Bench noted that as the market has collapsed due to COVID-19, per share value has come below Rs 100.

Thus looking at the present situation, ad interim relief till next date is to be granted to the plaintiffs.

Matter to be listed on 04-05-2020. [Rural Fairprice Wholesale Ltd. v. IDBI Trusteeship Services Ltd., Commercial Suit (L( 307 of 2020, decided on 30-03-2020]

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

In pursuance of the Government of India’s efforts to provide relief to law abiding companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) in the wake of COVID 19, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), has introduced the “Companies Fresh Start Scheme, 2020” and revised the “LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020” which is already in vogue to provide a first of its kind opportunity to both companies and LLPs to make good any filing related defaults, irrespective of duration of default, and make a fresh start as a fully compliant entity.

The Fresh Start scheme and modified LLP Settlement Scheme incentivise compliance and reduce compliance burden during the unprecedented public health situation caused by COVID-19. The USP of both the schemes is a one-time waiver of additional filing fees for delayed filings by the companies or LLPs with the Registrar of Companies during the currency of the Schemes, i.e. during the period starting from 1st April, 2020 and ending on 30th September, 2020.

The Schemes, apart from giving longer timelines for corporates to comply with various filing requirements under the Companies Act 2013 and LLP Act, 2008, significantly reduce the related financial burden on them, especially for those with long standing defaults, thereby giving them an opportunity to make a “fresh start”. Both the Schemes also contain provision for giving immunity from penal proceedings, including against imposition of penalties for late submissions and also provide additional time for filing appeals before the concerned Regional Directors against imposition of penalties, if already imposed.

However, the immunity is only against delayed filings in MCA21 and not against any substantive violation of law.

Details of the both the Schemes may be perused from the Circulars dated 30.03.2020, issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.


Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Press Release dt. 30-03-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

In view of the unprecedented situation arising out of country-wide lockdown declared by the Government consequent to the outbreak of COVID-19, it is clarified that the central Government employees who are attaining the age of superannuation on 31st March, 2020 in terms of Fundamental Rule 56 and due to retire, shall retire from Central Government service on 31st March, 2020, irrespective of whether they are working from home or working from office.


Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

[Press Release dt. 31-03-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Karnataka High Court:  A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka, CJ and B.V. Nagarathna, J. asked the State Government of Karnataka to take cognizance on various significant issues that have been raised in wake of the outbreak of Corona Virus.

Bench while addressing the present petition, appealed the members of the Bar and citizens to not file more PILs with the issues being considered in the present petition.

First Issue: Allegation against the police that they are indulging in indiscriminate lathi charge against persons who are found on streets.

Advocate General as well as Additional Government Advocate brought the attention of the Court to the directions issued by Commr. of Police calling upon police to show restraint.

Bench: It is stated that if Director General and IGP of State issue the same guidelines as stated above all over the State, then there may not be an occasion to make allegations regarding police excesses and police indulging in lathi charge. Court also stated that it is the responsibility to cooperate with administration and police for effective implementation of Order of Ministry of Home Affairs dated 24-03-2020.

Issue of Decongestion of jails in light of directions issued by Apex Court:

A Committee headed by Executive Chairman of Karnataka State Legal Services Authority was constituted that issued directions for implementation of directions issued by Supreme Court. Committee at District level to identify under trial prisoners who are charged with offences for which punishment is upto 7 years or less.

Court invited the Advocate General’s attention to the fact that State should ensure that the prisoner’s released on bail or parole have reached to their respective places.

Parole or Bail have to be undertaken after obtaining due consent of prisoner concerned. State will have to ensure that prisoners released do not suffer and are not required to stay on streets.

Directions have been issued considering rights of the prisoners under Article 21 of the Constitution of India with a view to ensure that spread of Corona Virus within prisons is controlled.

Bench states that it would be appropriate if State Government ensures that police strictly follows the guidelines laid down by Supreme Court in case of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 273.

Situation with regard to closure of all Anganwadis in the State:

Supply of hot meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers was being made and even food to the mal-nutritioned children was being provided.

Now this would result in stoppage of food supply. Thus these issues will have to be addressed by the State.

Attention is invited to the fact that all schools have been ordered to be closed : Issue is providing food to the children who were entitled to benefit of mid-day meals.

State Government will have to address the above-stated.

Coming to issue of supply of food to poor people, daily wage workers, people residing o streets, railway platforms etc., suggestions have been made as well as aspect of provision of face masks, sanitizers etc., to this category of persons.

Further the submission made is to reduce congestion in ration shops, State must consider the question of delivery of food grains at door step.

Additional Government Advocate for the State pointed out that State Government agreed to release quota of ration for April, 2020 and May, 2020 to all those holding ration cards.

It would be appropriate if State Government directs Gram Panchayats to take care of food security of the citizens residing within its jurisdiction.

Other Concern: If State is going to supply cooked food to the needy sections through Indira Canteens, it will lead to mass gathering of people which may result in community spreading of disease.

Court stated that State Government is expected to respond the above subject before the next date by producing a comprehensive plan for supply of food grains/food to the needy people, poor people, daily wage workers, people residing on the streets, railway platforms, bus stands etc.

Another issue that arose in front of the Court was that , there are large instances of hoarding of essential supplies and goods. 

Bench in the above regard states that, the State government will apply the available laws strictly and prevent hoarding of essential supplies, as such illegal activities directly affect the supply of essential goods to citizens.

Issue regarding pourakarmikas:

Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner of BBMP of Solid Waste Management department stated that the equipments as stated therein have been supplied to all the pourakarmikas working under BBMP.

Issue regarding collection of waste/garbage from houses where persons have been subjected to home quarantine:

Bench states that State Government will have to respond by taking special measures on the above regard as apprehensions are that pourakarmikas will be affected by infection.

Every single pourakarmika must be provided with the safety equipment. The State Government will have to ensure that appropriate transport facilities are made available to them.

They play a very pivotal role in the present circumstances.

State Government is expected to exercise plenary powers and issue directions to all municipal bodies to extend all the benefits as discussed and all the benefits mentioned.

Also the State Government will have to take a policy decision of introducing special measures for protecting the above category of workmen.

Another aspect that State Government has to respond on the next date of hearing is number of laboratories available for testing Corona Virus.

Another issue for consideration is of providing food to stray animals, stray dogs etc.

Bench asks the State Government to look into the aforesaid aspect.

It would be appropriate if State Government provides a portal on its website with a request to all NGOs to upload information about the nature of work they are are doing and geographical area of their work. State Government can more effectively take the help of NGOs and infact, allocate different categories of services in different areas.

One of the submissions was regarding seeking direction to Wakf Board to take steps to control large gathering at the time of prayers.

Court makes it clear through this order that,

“the Central Government’s order dated 29-03-2020 will have to be implemented in its true letter and spirit.”

State government will have to take cognizance of the present order and take appropriate steps on the basis of the said order.

Bench directs the listing of these petition on 03-04-2020. [Mohammed Arif Jameel  v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 391, decided on 30-03-2020]

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

With respect to COVID 19 pandemic, Department of Rural Development, GoI in close collaboration with State Governments has taken various initiatives. Mahatma Gandhi NREGS wages have been revised by Department of Rural Development, GoI with effect from 1st April, 2020. The average national increase is Rs 20.

Focus of Mahatma Gandhi NREGS may be on individual beneficiary-oriented works which directly benefit SC, ST and women headed households as well as small & marginal farmers and other poor households. However, close consultation and guidance of the State as well as district authorities would be necessary to ensure that lock down conditions are not violated and norms of social distancing are scrupulously followed.

Ministry of Rural Development is according top priority to liquidate the wage and material arrears. An amount of Rs. 4,431 crore has been released in this week to various States/UTs to liquidate these liabilities of current fiscal year and the remaining such liabilities along with 1st tranche for the year 2020-21 will be released before 15th April, 2020. An amount of Rs. 721 crore has been released to State Government of Andhra Pradesh.


Ministry of Rural Development

[Press Release dt. 31-03-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The Of?ce of the Principal Scienti?c Advisor to the Government of India has issued a detailed manual on homemade masks : “Masks for Curbing the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus”.

Quoting the World Health Organization , the manual states that “Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.”

Analyses show that if 50% of the population were to wear masks, only 50% of the population would be infected by the virus. Once 80% of the population wears a mask, the outbreak can be stopped immediately.

On Why Wear a Mask?, it says that  “COVID-19 virus spreads easily from person to person contact.  Virus carrying droplets dry fast enough to form droplet nuclei and remain airborne eventually landing on different surfaces. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected in aerosols for up to three hours and on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days.

The manual says that Masks lower the chances of coronavirus entering the respiratory system through droplets still in the air from an infected person. It says that reducing the chances of inhaling the virus by wearing a protective mask that is cleaned thoroughly using a combination of approaches that use Heat, UV light, water, soap and alcohol, will be vital to stopping its spread.

The proposed guide is meant to provide a simple outline of best practices to make, use and reuse masks to enable NGOs and individuals to self-create such masks and accelerate widespread adoption of masks across India. The key criteria for proposed designs are Ease of Access to Materials, Easy of Making at Home, Ease of Use and Reuse. Wearing of masks is especially recommended for people living in densely populated areas across India.

Earlier in its update on  Science, Technology and Innovation response to COVID-19, the Of?ce of the Principal Scienti?c Advisor to the Government of India stated that the Science and Technology Empowered Committee for COVID-19 response has rapidly worked towards implementation of scientific solutions. The following actions are in place keeping in view the critical need to increase the testing facilities for COVID-19: An office memorandum allowing institutes under DST, DBT, CSIR, DAE, DRDO and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to self assess and prepare their labs for research and testing through the standard and rigorous protocol. Testing will be stratified according to priorities set by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and ICMR. Research will also be stratified into short and mid-term returns.

The S & T Empowered Committee was constituted on 19th March 2020. The committee is chaired by Prof. Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog and Prof. K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and is responsible for coordination amongst science agencies, scientists, industries and regulatory bodies, and to take speedy decisions on research and development to implementation related to the Sars-Cov-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease.

The following is the detailed manual on using homemade masks (replacing the earlier Manual issued):

Manual


 

Ministry of Science & Technology

[Press Release dt. 31-03-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Cargo flights were operated to carry medical supplies to Southern, eastern and north eastern regions on 30th March 2020. Details are as below:

Lifeline 1- Air India flight A320 on its route Mumbai-New Delhi-Bengaluru-Mumbai, carried HLL consignment of 6593 kg and Nagaland ventilator masks, consignments of Kerala and Karnataka, consignment of Bipaps for Meghalaya and consignment of Ministry of Textiles for Coimbatore.

Lifelines 2- IAF flight from Hindon- Dimapur- Imphal-Guwahati carried consignments of HLL and ICMR kits for Shillong.

Private airlines such as Indigo, Spicejet and Blue Dart are also operating flights on commercial basis.

MoCA group was formed with important Stakeholders. Hub & spoke lifeline services were started. Cargo Hubs have been created at Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata. Hubs feed to spokes at Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Agartala, Aizwal, Imphal, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram.

S.

No.

Date Air India Alliance IAF Indigo SpiceJet Total flights operated
1 26.3.2020 02 02 04
2 27.3.2020 04 09 13
3 28.3.2020 04 08 06 18
4 29.3.2020

 

04 * 10 * 06 * 20
Total Flights 14 27 06 06 02 55

* Air India and IAF collaborated for Ladakh.

Total cargo load carried from 26th to 29th March 2020 was 10 Tonnes. The cargo essentially covered COVID-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits & PPE, masks, gloves & other accessories of HLL & cargo requisitioned by State/UT Governments.

A dedicated Medical Air Cargo related website has been launched and is functional. This website will be fully functional from 1st April, 2020. The link is available on the MoCA website (www.civilaviation.gov.in).

The information sharing, answering of queries and the work at ground is going on round the clock for delivering the supplies to the destinations in a timely manner so that the efforts to fight the COVID 19 are multiplied and supplemented.


Ministry of Civil Aviation

[Press Release dt. 31-03-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) amended the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016 (CIRP Regulations) on 29-03-2020.

2. Government of India has declared a lockdown of twenty-one days with effect from 25th March, 2020 as a measure to combat and contain the spread of COVID-19. It is difficult for the insolvency professionals to continue to conduct the process, for members of committee of creditors to attend the meetings, and for prospective resolution applicants to prepare and submit resolution plans, during the period of lockdown. Therefore, it may be difficult to complete various activities during a corporate insolvency resolution process within the timelines specified in the CIRP Regulations.

3. To address this difficulty, the IBBI amended the CIRP Regulations to provide that the period of lockdown imposed by the Central Government in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak shall not be counted for the purposes of the time-line for any activity that could not be completed due to the lockdown, in relation to a corporate insolvency resolution process. This would, however, be subject to the overall time-limit provided in the Code.

4. The amended regulations are effective from 29-03-2020. These are available at www.mca.gov.in and www.ibbi.gov.in.


Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India

[Press Release dt. 29-03-2020]