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 19OP. ED.

COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the entire working of the country be it government sector, private sector, businesses, educational institutions including judicial work (except matters of extreme urgency).  In fact the catastrophic ramifications resulting from this virus, has made the Prime Minister declare complete lockdown of the country. This would definitely impact the performance of obligations of various parties in all sectors and can be said to make most of the obligations as impossible to perform. Though, impossibility of performance is a totally different arena governed by Section 56 of the Contract Act, 1872 but surely the same would also definitely impact the timelines within which the arbitral proceedings are to be completed by making the arbitral award.

Section 29-A of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996, was introduced by virtue of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 w.e.f. 23-10-2015 providing for the ‘Time-limit for arbitral award’. This section has been further modified by virtue of the 2019 Amendment Act w.e.f. 9-08-2019. Under the 2015 Amendment, Section 29-B was also introduced which provides for conducting arbitration under ‘fast-track procedure’.  The said provisions are as under:

 “29-A. Time-limit for arbitral award.— [1](1) The award in matters other than international commercial arbitration shall be made by the arbitral tribunal within a period of twelve months from the date of completion of pleadings under sub-section (4) of Section 23:

Provided that the award in the matter of international commercial arbitration may be made as expeditiously as possible and endeavour may be made to dispose of the matter within a period of twelve months from the date of completion of pleadings under sub-section (4) of Section 23.]

(2) If the award is made within a period of six months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference, the arbitral tribunal shall be entitled to receive such amount of additional fees as the parties may agree.

(3) The parties may, by consent, extend the period specified in sub-section (1) for making award for a further period not exceeding six months.

 (4) If the award is not made within the period specified in sub-section (1) or the extended period specified under sub-section (3), the mandate of the arbitrator(s) shall terminate unless the court has, either prior to or after the expiry of the period so specified, extended the period:

Provided that while extending the period under this sub-section, if the court finds that the proceedings have been delayed for the reasons attributable to the arbitral tribunal, then, it may order reduction of fees of arbitrator(s) by not exceeding five per cent for each month of such delay:

 [2][Provided further that where an application under sub-section (5) is pending, the mandate of the arbitrator shall continue till the disposal of the said application:

Provided also that the arbitrator shall be given an opportunity of being heard before the fees is reduced.]

(5) The extension of period referred to in sub-section (4) may be on the application of any of the parties and may be granted only for sufficient cause and on such terms and conditions as may be imposed by the court.

(6) While extending the period referred to in sub-section (4), it shall be open to the court to substitute one or all of the arbitrators and if one or all of the arbitrators are substituted, the arbitral proceedings shall continue from the stage already reached and on the basis of the evidence and material already on record, and the arbitrator(s) appointed under this section shall be deemed to have received the said evidence and material.

(7) In the event of arbitrator(s) being appointed under this section, the arbitral tribunal thus reconstituted shall be deemed to be in continuation of the previously appointed arbitral tribunal.

(8) It shall be open to the court to impose actual or exemplary costs upon any of the parties under this section.

(9) An application filed under sub-section (5) shall be disposed of by the court as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to dispose of the matter within a period of sixty days from the date of service of notice on the opposite party.

 29-B. Fast track procedure.—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the parties to an arbitration agreement, may, at any stage either before or at the time of appointment of the arbitral tribunal, agree in writing to have their dispute resolved by fast track procedure specified in sub-section (3).

(2) The parties to the arbitration agreement, while agreeing for resolution of dispute by fast track procedure, may agree that the arbitral tribunal shall consist of a sole arbitrator who shall be chosen by the parties.

(3) The arbitral tribunal shall follow the following procedure while conducting arbitration proceedings under sub-section (1):

(a) The arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute on the basis of written pleadings, documents and submissions filed by the parties without any oral hearing;

(b) The arbitral tribunal shall have power to call for any further information or clarification from the parties in addition to the pleadings and documents filed by them;

(c) An oral hearing may be held only, if, all the parties make a request or if the arbitral tribunal considers it necessary to have oral hearing for clarifying certain issues;

(d) The arbitral tribunal may dispense with any technical formalities, if an oral hearing is held, and adopt such procedure as deemed appropriate for expeditious disposal of the case.

 (4) The award under this section shall be made within a period of six months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference.(5) If the award is not made within the period specified in sub-section (4), the provisions of sub-sections (3) to (9) of Section 29-A shall apply to the proceedings.

(6) The fees payable to the arbitrator and the manner of payment of the fees shall be such as may be agreed between the arbitrator and the parties.”

The purpose behind introduction of the aforesaid provisions was to make the arbitrators hear and decide matters expeditiously, and within a reasonable period of time. The scheme of Section 29-A is that the arbitrator is bound to render an award within 12 months, which can be extended by 6 months i.e. up to 18 months with the consent of the parties. However, if the award is not delivered even in the extended time, the mandate of the tribunal stands terminated. However, the courts are empowered to extend the time-limit either prior to or after the expiry of the extended period. But the courts are to be given justification and proof of sufficient cause for such delay. In case, the court finds that the proceedings have been delayed for the reasons attributable to the arbitrator, it may order for reduction of fees of the arbitrators and may also substitute arbitrator(s) by terminating the mandate of the previous arbitrator(s). Thus, it has become imperative for all that the arbitration proceedings are culminated in a time-bound manner.

However, COVID-19 pandemic has definitely dis-arrayed all the time lines and schedules in each and every arbitration all across the globe, especially the domestic arbitrations on account of the lockdown. None of the parties or the arbitrators could have foreseen this situation and it has led to an event of impossibility of conductance of arbitration proceedings. Keeping in view the number of arbitrations taking place all over the country, all the arbitrations where the arbitrators have entered the reference, the time period as specified under Section 29-A has commenced and need to be finished by the end of the specified time.

But taking a pragmatic and holistic view of the matter, this period lost in the lockdown on account of  COVID-19 virus is liable to be excluded being a period of impossibility of continuation of arbitration proceedings. In fact, taking note of this horrifying situation, wherein the parties and their lawyers would be incapacitated in taking legal steps for prosecuting their petitions/applications/appeals/suits/other proceedings,  the Hon’ble Supreme Court suo motu took up the issue of extension of limitation vide order dated 23.03.2020[3] directing as under:

       This Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country on account of COVID-19 virus and resultant difficulties that may be faced by litigants across the country in filing their petitions/applications/suits/appeals/all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under special laws (both Central and/or State).

To obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective courts/Tribunals across the country including this Court, it is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or special laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f. 15-3-2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings.

We are exercising this power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and declare that this order is a binding order within the meaning of Article 141 on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities.

This order may be brought to the notice of all High Courts for being communicated to all subordinate Courts/Tribunals within their respective jurisdiction.

Issue notice to all the Registrars General of the High Courts, returnable in four weeks.”

Thus, the Hon’ble Apex Court taking note of this unprecedented situation has stopped the limitation to run w.e.f. 15-3-2020 till further orders. Taking support of the said order passed by the Hon’ble Court in the interest of justice, the period lost on account of corona virus pandemic i.e. at least from 15-03-2020 till further orders of the Apex Court re-starting the period of limitation, must be excluded for the purpose of Sections 29-A and 29-B of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996, as well.

No doubt, discussion regarding Online Dispute Resolution, have initiated all over the world in this difficult time of lockdown and there are avenues of videoconferencing/teleconferencing already available which are being resorted to, in some of the ongoing arbitrations but the same are being done only for a particular purpose like recording of witnesses, but to implement the same as a rule for conducting the entire arbitration proceedings, suitable orders would be required to be issued under Section 19 at the initial stage of commencement of arbitration proceedings.

Therefore, till the online system for conducting the arbitration system is evolved and adopted by all concerned, an order for suspension of arbitration proceedings akin to an order passed by the Hon’ble  Supreme Court is required to be passed by the respective arbitrators.


*Puneet Taneja, Advocate on Record, Supreme Court of India, is a litigation lawyer practicing before Supreme Court of India, Delhi High Court and is also an arbitration lawyer.

[1] Substituted by Act 33 of 2019, S. 6(a), w.e.f. 30-8-2019.

[2] Inserted by Act 33 of 2019, S. 6(b), w.e.f. 30-8-2019.

[3] In re, Cognizance for Extension of Limitation, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 343.

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court:  A bench of L. Negeswara Rao and Deepak Gupta, JJ has issued a notice to the Central government on a petition seeking immediate direction for the payment of basic minimum wages to migrant workers, adversely affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. The bench has sought a response by April 7.

The petition, filed by social activists Harsh Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj, sought an immediate direction to the Central government for payment of basic minimum wages to migrant workers.The plea said that the 21-day lockdown, imposed in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, under the Disaster Management Act discriminated among the citizens.

(Source: ANI)

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

In response to queries being raised with regard to exemption of specific services under the Consolidated Guidelines on lockdown measures to fight COVID-19 issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Union Home Secretary has written to States specifying the details of such services being exempted under the above restrictions.

In the communication to States, Specific Services exempt under lockdown restrictions are broadly as follows:

  •  direct marketing of agricultural produce
  •  food & nutrition support to children, women, lactating mothers by Anganwadi workers
  •  medical services & drug manufacturing under AYUSH category

Click Here to see Communication to States with specific details of exempt categories


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 02-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance had issued detailed guidelines on disbursal of money to beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PM-GKY) through banks, during 21-day lockdown to fight COVID-19.

In pursuance of these guidelines, Secretary, Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA), Ajay Kumar Bhalla has written to all States/UTs requesting them to take all necessary measures to ensure smooth disbursal of money to the beneficiaries of PM-GKY, while observing norms of social distancing.

The Departments concerned of State Government/UT Administration, District authorities and field agencies may be informed about the guidelines for strict compliance, the communication stated

Click here to see Communication to States


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

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, CJ and Dipankar Datta, J. issued interim directions for the administration of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with regard to contain the outbreak of Coronavirus in the Islands.

“COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc all over the country. It is indeed unfortunate that the virus has spread even to the Andaman Islands.”

Monitoring Committee was constituted pursuant to the hearing on 28-03-2020 with the purpose to make an overall assessment of all relevant factors including supply of essentials and availability of other support mechanisms for people stationed at the Islands with a direction submit report for the same.

Court has perused the above stated reports.

Further, petitioner has highlighted points of concern that require immediate attention by the administration for the benefit of islanders during the period of lockdown.

Additional Solicitor General appearing for the UT Administration that the situation in islands is under close monitoring by Ministry of Home Affairs as well as PMO and no stone would be left unturned to ensure that such situation does not go beyond control.

He added that,

Instructions to suit the peculiar needs of the islanders are being constantly issued together with supplies of essentials, medicines and health care equipments and officers at all levels posted in the islands, irrespective of status and position, have been engaged in activities to benefit the people they serve.

Monitoring Committee’s report was referred that suggested that ample stocks were there for the next 3 months.

ASG also suggested that petitioner may feel free to share what all is needed at the islands and efforts to bring the results would be taken by the administration.

According to MC report:

  • Stock of essentials are presently available and expected to be available in next couple of days.
  • Overcrowding on the streets of Port Blair would be frustrate the administration attempts to contain the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Reiterated need for providing essentials to public by home delivery.
  • People with minor illness are receiving medical advice on phone and with major health issues are being allowed access to hospital.
  • Administration is fully geared up to combat any crisis situation

Efforts and initiatives of the administration, in these trying times, need to be appreciated instead of picking bits and pieces of faults/remissness, here and there, in working out the relief programmes and highlighting the same for condemnation.

Court stated that,

“…each one of us, whether it be the executive, the judiciary or the civil society, have to work hand in hand to avert any further disaster, which might spell doom for the islands.”

Although, the administration seems to be conscious of what is required having regard to the ground realities, we feel inclined to make certain interim directions as follows:

(a)‘social distancing’ is non­-negotiable till April 14, 2020 and the administration shall see to it that there is no slip in regard to compliance with such norms;

(b)  the administration shall continue its endeavour to provide home delivery of essentials and medicines

(c)  in areas where such home delivery is not possible, shops may be allowed to be opened for a few hours for restricted functioning;

(d)  supply of drinking water should be ensured in all localities

(e)  access of LPG to households should be ensured commensurate with the supplies at hand;

(f)  transportation of perishables and local produce from the nearby islands

(g)  collection of milk and milk produce by employing adequate hands and vehicles from places near to Port Blair ought to be made operational;

(h) helicopter and shipping services should be utilized only for essential services, which would also include transportation on medical ground;

(i) personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, alcohol based sanitizers, disinfecting chemicals and all such substances required by the healthcare professionals, who are at the forefront of battling the outbreak, must be provided

(j)  proper hygienic conditions in the hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, health centres, etc. have to be ensured at any cost, lest the medical and para­medical staff fall prey to the virus;

(k)  the concern expressed by a member of the staff of the hospital (Annex. 4 to Mr Kabir’s report) must be looked into seriously and remedial action taken, for, if suspects are not appropriately tested to avoid creating panic, the healthcare workers would be exposed to the dangers of the virus which is not at all desirable;

(l)  senior citizens being most vulnerable to the attack of the virus, their other ailments, need to be checked and kept under control

(m) administration shall take special care to ensure that there is no spread of the virus amongst the vulnerable local indigenous communities

(n)  local authorities may not ignore the need to clear waste and garbage, for, as and when they pile up,

(o)  measures to sanitize public areas such as bus terminals, jetties, shops (opened to provide essential supplies) as well as petrol pumps, should be undertaken at such regular intervals as the administration deems appropriate;

(p)  banks and financial institutions may be kept open, albeit with restricted access, to facilitate transactions of emergent nature;

(q)  authorities concerned shall be directed by the administration to ensure uninterrupted internet connectivity

(r)  consignments dispatched through ships from any country having history of virus infection shall not be unloaded on any part of the islands unless such unloading has already commenced and in such a case, it is for the administration to decide, in its discretion, whether such unloading should be continued or not;

(s) stress and strain of police personnel on duty notwithstanding, we expect a humane approach from them while dealing with members of the public who are compelled to stray out for procuring essentials for dear life despite the lockdown without staying at home at all times but this may not be seen to dampen the spirits of those honest and sincere police personnel who are compelled to use the stick, being left with no other alternative, to maintain law and order in these difficult times;

(t) administration shall take due care of the hundreds of migrant workers at Port Blair and elsewhere by accommodating them in temporary shelter homes and by making provisions for their basic needs,

(u) Central Government shall extend its fullest cooperation and assistance to the administration to prevent any loss of life in the islands, either due to the disease or starvation, and also ensure that all essential supplies are made available to the people

Bench further constituted monitoring sub­committees to report to the Court on similar lines as per the requirement of the order dated March 28, 2020 as well as the directions contained in this order.

Matter to be listed on 08-04-2020. [Court on its own motion: In Re Relief and services at the Andaman and nicobar Islands, WP No. 5324 (W) 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

Supreme Court, while hearing to a writ petition, took serious note of the panic created by Fake News leading to mass movement of migrant labourers. This has lead to untold suffering to these people, the Court observed.

Following up on the Court’s observations, Secretary, Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA), Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla has written to all States/UTs to take effective measures to fight Fake News. It has been communicated that the Government of India is creating a web-portal for people to verify facts and unverified news promptly. States/UTs have been requested to create a similar mechanism at their level for issues relating to them.

The Apex Court has also made observations and directions to ensure provision of basic amenities such as food, medicines etc. in line with NDMA/MHA directives and other welfare activities in relief shelters for migrant labourers. The States/UTs have been communicated to comply with the Directives/Advisories/Orders issued by Central Government in letter and spirit, for containment of spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Click here to see Communication to States/UTs


Ministry of Home Affairs

[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: 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)

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]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ on asked the counsel of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in Agusta Westland VVIP chopper scam, to approach the Delhi High Court for his interim bail in wake of the coronavirus lockdown. The Court refused to express any views on the merits of the case and asked Michel’s counsel to approach the High Court for the same.

It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court has directed all States/Union Territories to constitute a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate.

Michel had approached the Supreme Court for interim bail in light of prevalent conditions owing to COVID-19 in the country. The interim bail  has also been pending with Delhi High Court but has not been taken up for consideration. Michel was earlier directed to wait for the decision of a High-Powered Committee, which was set-up by the Delhi government to decongest the jails in the national capital. However, Michel’s case was not considered for grant of bail by the committee. Thereafter, the British national approached the Supreme Court seeking interim bail.

Michel, in his bail plea, claimed that he falls within the class of people more vulnerable to coronavirus and his health condition is very critical and incompatible with the current prison status under the COVID-19 crisis.

Michel was extradited from Dubai in 2018 and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in connection with alleged irregularities in the chopper deal. While the CBI is probing his alleged role as a ‘middleman’ in the deal, the ED is investigating money laundering charges against him.

(Source: ANI)

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]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A bench headed by Dr. DY Chandrachud, J has sought the Central government’s response on a public interest litigation seeking directions to avail WHO-approved protection kits for doctors, especially since they are working under tedious conditions. The bench sought response on the PIL filed by a Nagpur based doctor Jerryl Banait, by next week.

The petition sought directions to ensure availability of World Health Organisation (WHO)-graded protective gear, including Hazmat suits and personal protective equipment, including sterile medical/Nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators, shoe covers, headcovers and coveralls, gowns to all health workers including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and para-medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients.

The plea not only sought this equipment for medical professions in metro cities, but in tier 2 and tier 3 cities as well.

“As there is no specific vaccination to prevent or cure COVID- 19, it is imperative for doctors to be in constant contact with patients, so as to monitor them on regular intervals, and observe their symptoms,”

It added,

“In the absence of appropriate protective gear, doctors put themselves at risk of being affected by the virus in the discharge of their duties. It is the duty of the States to ensure graded protective gear to doctors and other welfare facilities, so as to aid them to combat the virus,”

The PIL said that in the cases where the hospitals and health centres are not provided WHO standardised masks and gowns, medical staff mortality will exponentially increase and the situation will spiral out of control in the absence of sufficient medical assistance.

It also sought directions to the government to perform their statutory duty and provide security to doctors and other para-medical professionals, including separate transportation facilities, separate accommodation/ isolation rooms to protect the exposure of their families, and food facilities, etc.

(Source: ANI)

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]