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.