COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR SHah, HH has adjourned for two weeks hearing on a Public Interest Litigation seeking directions to impose a financial emergency under Article 360 of the Constitution in the country due to the coronavirus lockdown. The Court did not think it was appropriate to impose a financial emergency for now.

The PIL was filed by a think tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) through advocate Virag Gupta, who appeared for the hearing held through video conferencing. The petition sought directions to “safeguard the Rule of Law in India, which is being threatened by arbitrary actions of states and local authorities“, during the menace of coronavirus.

The plea sought a direction for notification of financial emergency under Article 360 of the Constitution, which pertains to the provisions of financial emergency. The petition said that almost all the fundamental rights such as freedom of movement, most rights under Article 21 and various other fundamental rights have been practically suspended during the lockdown.

It said that “this is the biggest emergency in independent India” and it must be addressed as per Constitutional provisions through unified command between central and state governments.

The petition further contended that even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a countrywide lockdown for 21 days, for which orders were issued on March 24 by the MHA, different states and police authorities are continuing to take their own action under Section 144 of the Code in the guise of orders issued by the central government which amounts to constitutional fraud. It also sought directions for suspension of the collection of utility bills and directions to the state police and local authorities to strictly comply with home ministry instructions so that essential services are not disrupted.

(Source: ANI)

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ took suo motu cognisance of nonavailability of mid-day meals for children due to the closure of schools due to coronavirus spread and issued notices to all state governments and union territories.

“it is necessary, that all the States should come out with a uniform policy so as to ensure, that while preventing spread of COVID-19, the schemes for providing nutritional food to the children and nursing and lactating mothers are not adversely affected.”

The Court noticed that non-supply of nutritional food to the children as well as lactating and nursing mothers may lead to large-scale malnourishment. Particularly, the children and the lactating and nursing mothers in rural as well as tribal area are prone to such mal-nourishment. Such mal-nutrition may affect their immunity system and as such, such children and lactating and nursing mothers would be more prone to catch the infection.

“While dealing with one crisis, the situation may not lead to creation of another crisis.”

The Court also took note of the fact that in some districts, though the schools and Anganwadis have been shut down, the parents have been told to pick up nutritional food for their children from such centres.

In order to take control of the situation, the Court, hence, issue notice to the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Union of India as well as the Chief Secretaries/Chief Administrators/Administrators of all the States and the Union Territories to put in their response on an affidavit within one week.

The Court also appinted Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde as  Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in the matter.

Union government had earlier announced the complete shut down of all educational institutions, places of social gatherings like swimming pools, spas, gyms, museums and cultural centers in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in India has reached 147, including 122 Indians and 24 foreign nationals, according to government data on Wednesday morning.

[IN RE : REGARDING CLOSURE OF MID-DAY MEAL SCHEME , 2020 SCC OnLine SC 342, order dated 18.03.2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Government of India has undertaken evacuation operations from several countries in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak to bring back Indian citizens as well as nationals from other countries.

As it became clear that Iran was facing a COVID-19 outbreak, Government of India started to undertake measures to ensure safety and security of its citizens in the country. Indian nationals in Iran include pilgrims, students and fishermen. On 7th March, 108 samples were received from Iran. These samples are being tested at the laboratory of AIIMS. Also, six scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have been stationed in Iran. Equipment and reagents have also been dispatched to enable them to setup a lab. The first batch of 58 evacuees from Iran has arrived on 10th March, 2020 with 25 men, 31 women and 2 children on board. All evacuees are asymptomatic at present.

So far, Government of India has evacuated 948 passengers from COVID-19 affected countries. Out of these, 900 are Indian citizens and 48 belonging to different nationalities including Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, USA, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru.

Earlier, as Wuhan city in Hubei province of China became the epicenter of the COVID-19 and there were hundreds of Indians stuck in the city, Air India operated two special flights for the evacuation efforts which brought back 654 passengers that included 647 Indian citizens.

The first batch consisting of 324 Indians were evacuated from Wuhan, China on 1st February. 104 of these were quarantined for monitoring at ITBP Chhawla camp and the rest 220 were housed in the army facility at Manesar. The second batch of 330 passengers (including 7 Maldivian citizens and two Indian Embassy officials who were on the ground to coordinate the evacuation efforts) arrived in India on 3rd February. 300 of these (including 7 Maldivians) were housed at ITBP Chhawla Camp and 30 were shifted to Manesar facility for monitoring.

All of these evacuees were placed in the isolation facilities for 14 days. They were tested twice and were found negative for COVID-19. They were discharged on 18th February, 2020.

On 26th February, Indian Air Force evacuated 112 passengers from Hubei province in China. Among these 76 were Indian citizens. The other nationals evacuated by Indian Air Force  included citizens of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, China, USA, Madagascar and South Africa. The passengers reached India on 27th February, 2020 and subsequently are housed at ITBP camp for a period of 14 days, as per protocol. They have tested negative for COVID-19 in the first test. The IAF flight had also carried medical supplies which were given as good-will gesture to China.

In addition, for the case involving the Japanese Cruise Ship, Diamond Princess, on 27th February, Air India flight carried an evacuation operation bringing back 124 passengers including 5 foreign nationals from Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru, from Port of Yokohama in Japan. The evacuees are housed at army facility in Manesar. They have tested negative in the first test.

As a measure of prevention, it is reiterated that as per the Travel Advisory issued by Government of India on 10th March, 2020, passengers with travel history to China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany should undergo self-imposed quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival, and their employers should facilitate work-from-home for such employees during this period.

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 11-03-2020]