Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A. A. Sayed, J. addressed issues pertaining to migrant labourers, homeless and other marginalised communities in the city of Mumbai pursuant to COVID-19 pandemic and in particular relating to making water, food and healthcare facilities available to them.

B V Samant, AGP submitted that State Government has set up relief/shelter camps and about 7.5 lakh migrant labourers have been accommodated and along with that they are being provided 3 meals a day.

In each district a common helpline has been set up. Various advisories have been issued by Centre and State Government that being followed by authorities.

Senior Counsel, Gayatri Singh for the petitioners submitted that though various advisories have been issued by Centre and State Government and there are several schemes in place, there is no implementation of the same by State authorities and the benefits pursuant to them are not reaching the migrant labourers and homeless persons.

No proper response to the help-lines and there are several areas where there is no water, food, medicines and healthcare, and toilet facilities made available.

Court’s Decision

Bench stated that the issues pertain to implementation of the advisories and schemes of Centre and State Government and as regards the benefits being made available to all the migrants and the marginalised sections of community.

There is a scheme in place for victims of disasters through the Legal Services Authorities to ensure immediate help to the victims of disaster by Government and Non-Government Agencies. Under the said scheme, the State Legal Services Authorities are required to co- ordinate the implementation of the plan of action prepared by the Disaster Management Authorities and supervise the transferring victims of disaster to shelters and the distribution of food, drinking water, medicines and healthcare, to such victims.

Thus, District Legal Services Authorities can play an effective role by co-ordinating the activities of the State Government authorities.

Hence, endeavour of the State Government must be that no victims go hungry and the food/food-grains reach all victims (even in remote areas), and drinking water, medicines, healthcare and hygienic toilette facilities are provided to them. [Sarva Hara Jan Andolan v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 520, decided on 08-04-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: While deciding the issue of granting compensation to a victim of trafficking, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Rajasekhar Mantha, J., held that the victim was entitled to compensation under W.B. Victim Compensation Scheme 2017 read with Section 357A CrPC.

The victim was identified, traced and brought back from Pune to W.B. Two out of four accused persons were arrested, while the other two remained absconding. The victim filed an application claiming compensation under the Scheme which was framed in pursuance to the mandate provided by Section 357A CrPC. The application was rejected by concerned District Legal Services Authority and the appeal preferred by the victim was also dismissed by State Legal Services Authority. The grounds of rejection being that for providing compensation, both the conditions as envisaged under sub-section (4) of 375A needs to be satisfied; namely, first, the accused not being traced or identified, and second, trial not having commenced. While rejecting the grounds, the High Court observed, if the accused have not been identified, a trial cannot commence anyway. The legislature could not have imposed an occurrence leading to the same result twice over, as a condition precedent. Any multiple conditions must be independent occurrences.

The High Court noted that the object and purpose of the Scheme is, inter alia, that victim of a serious crime, especially women, needs urgent and immediate attention and both physical and mental rehabilitation. Such rehabilitation, from the nature of the scheme and the section, is not dependent on the pace of either investigation or trial. Further, compensation is awarded under the scheme as formulated pursuant to Section 357A, as the fundamental right of the victim under Article 21 (of the Constitution) have been violated. Denial of compensation to such victim would continue such violation and perpetrate gross inhumanity on the victim in question. On the basis of discussion and observations as mentioned hereinabove, the Court held that the State Legal Services Authority was not right in rejecting victims claim. Therefore, the petition was allowed and the above-mentioned order was set aside. The matter was sent back to the State Legal Services Authority for fresh assessment to be completed within ten days. [ Serina Mondal v. State of W.B., 2018 SCC OnLine Cal 4238, dated 25-06-2018]