Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Gujarat High Court: Paresh Upadhyay, J., while addressing a matter with regard to granting bail to the migrant workers who were locked in jails, stated that,

“instead of sending these labourers back to their hometown when they wished to go back due to no money, work and food, they were locked in jails.”

“These migrants are more the victims certainly not criminals.”

Present application was filed for regular bail. He was punishable for the offences under Sections 143, 144, 147, 148, 149, 186, 332, 333, 336, 337, 427 and 188 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 135(1) of the Gujarat Police Act, Section 3 of Epidemic Act, 1897, Section 51(b) of the Disaster Management Act and Section 3(1) and 3(2)(e) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

Advocates on behalf of the applicants submitted that  of the total 33 applicants, 32 are from the State of Jharkhand and one is from the State of West Bengal.

The stated applicants were migrant workers and in the new lockdown they were all without any work, money and food, thus under the said circumstances they wished to go back to their home which led to an untoward incident.

Since 18-05-2020, applicants are in jail.

“…fit case to exercise the discretion to release the applicants on bail, in exercise of powers under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.”

-High Court

Court noted that instead of sending the above-stated labourers back to their home towns when they were out of money, food and work, they were locked up in the jails.

In view of the above, bench said that,

Applicants are more the victims, certainly not the criminals. Thus, the said applicants immediately needs to be set free on furnishing person bond without any conditions.

Thus, the application has been allowed. [Ravi v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 930, decided on 23-06-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ., dismissed a petition raising concerns for the welfare of LGBTQI Community, as the same was filed without any ground work.

Public Interest Litigation was filed to seek direction to respondent to take effective measures to provide financial aid including food, shelter and medicines, etc., to sex workers, lesbians, bisexuals, gay and transgender people in Delhi for their survival during the COVID-19 Pandemic; petitioner also sought the constitution of a Committee for their rehabilitation.

Another point raised in the PIL was the exemption of rent for above-stated persons living in Delhi.

Bench on observing the points on concern raised in the PIL, asked the Counsel that for whose benefit the petition has been filed and how such people/persons are to be identified, he had no clue and appears to be thunderstruck by the question.

“…Whether any separate register is maintained of such persons, as indeed cannot be, again the petitioner has no idea.

Bench asked the Petitioner, whether such persons would come forward to identify themselves; he was unable to say anything whatsoever except for stating that such task should also be assigned to the respondent.”

Further the bench dismissed the matter by stating that respondent as well as State Governments have already brought out several schemes to alleviate hardship to citizens in wake of COVID-19.

Supreme Court and other Courts have already issued directions in the above regard and such persons are not being discriminated.

Thus petitioner sought to withdraw his petition. Court allowed for the same on the condition that,

“the petitioner, if files any other public interest litigation in his  name or on behalf of anybody else, to file a copy of this order alongwith the said PIL and mention this order prominently, in the synopsis as well as in the body of such fresh petition if any. [Anurag Chauhan v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine Del 584 , decided on 11-05-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, CJ and  and B.V. Nagarathna, J. while dealing with certain issues amid COVID 19 outbreak, noted a very significant point, that,

media must ensure that no part of the stand taken by the State Government or no part of the orders passed by this Court should be misinterpreted or misquoted

In the present petition, the issue brought in is with regard to the Order issued by Kalaburgi District Administration which suggests that organizations distributing food to beggars, needy and homeless are committing violation of prohibitory order under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

In view of the above, it has been sought that the order should be modified in a manner that individuals, voluntary organizations, NGOs, etc. should be permitted to continue with the work of supplying the food to the underprivileged and poorer sections of the society.

Bench observed that,

“Voluntary organizations cannot be prevented from distributing food to the weaker sections of the society so long as they are following the norms of social distancing and taking other precautionary measures.”

Further the Court added to its observations that,

since its first order, Court has been suggesting to the State Government that activities of NGOs need to be coordinated. Thus State government must respond on the stated.

It will be appropriate if the State Government comes out with a direction for convening meetings with NGOs working in the field at various levels so that their activities can be co- ordinated

On a requisition made by the Chairpersons of the DLSAs to the concerned State officials, requisite number of passes shall be issued forthwith to enable the PLVs to perform the duties which are entrusted to them. The Director General of Police may also consider of issuing necessary guidelines to the police authorities to allow the PLVs to do their work on production of the certificates/passes issued by the DLSAs.

With regard to opening of shelter homes, Court stated that, considering the fact that nearly 1/3rd of positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the State are from Bengaluru Urban District, compliance by BBMP with the directions issued by the State Government is of utmost importance.

Another significant observation made through this order by the bench was that,

“… while reporting our orders, the media and in particular, the electronic media has to be very careful. The media must ensure that no part of the stand taken by the State Government or no part of the orders passed by this Court should be misinterpreted or misquoted.”

Cause of confusion and panic can be misrepresentation of the orders of this Court by the media. 

While noting the above observations and asking for State Governments response, the present petition is to be dealt on 16-04-2020. [Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, WP No. 6435 of 2020, decided on 13-04-2020]

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

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. [ I.A. NO. … in WP(C). No. 23724 of 2016, In re,2020 SCC OnLine Ker 1301 ,Order dt. 31-03-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva and Navin Chawla, JJ. addressed the matter with regard to the issues being faced by the Delhi Riot victims.

The present hearing has been conducted through video conferencing.

Senior Advocate, Colin Gonsalves contended that Delhi Riot Victims have been facing several issues, he stated that the victims were staying at Idgah Camp but the Government has cleared the camp due to which they had to relocate themselves. In view of the lockdown they are facing several issues with regard to medical and food.

Standing Counsel for GNCTD, Rahul Mehra states that the camp has been removed as the victims voluntarily left camp and were not removed by police or government.

He added to his submission that, in view the present situation and also the directions with regard to lockdown issued by the Central Government, the officers shall get in touch with the representatives of each of the 275 families, whose names and telephone numbers have been provided and will further ascertain whether any assistance with regard to food, medical help etc. is required by them.

The families will be provided with the Nodal officers details for any kind of assistance during an emergent situation. In case any of the families require accommodation, efforts shall be made to immediately place them in appropriate accommodation/relief camps.

Senior Advocate, Colin Gonsalves further submits that there is an apprehension with regard to shifting them to the existing night shelters in and around their respective localities.

Standing Counsel for East Delhi Municipal Corporation submit that authorities shall coordinate between themselves and ensure that such families are not accommodated in the existing night shelters.

List for directions/reporting compliance on 03.04.2020 [Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine Del 49, decided on 30-03-2020]

Also Read:

COVID-19 | Del HC | Delhi riot victims who may be shelterless to be provided accommodation and basic amenities

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh, JJ.  addressed an application filed under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 directed,

“GNCTD to ensure that all the riot victims, who may be shelterless were provided with accommodation.”

Petitioner in the present application has prayed for the following:

“a. Directing a large contingent of cleaning staff from the East Delhi Municipal Corporation to go immediately to the area to carry out the cleaning on a war footing and continue cleaning the area and the drains twice a day.

b. Directing the respondents to re-open the relief camp at Idgah, Mustafabad and to provide proper food supplies, sanitation, cleaning of toilets, adequate water and security.

c. Directing the respondents to publicly announce on television and in the Newspapers that the Idgah camp is open and all those who seek refuge there are welcome to return.

d. Directing the respondents to provide doctors and medical care immediately.
e. Restraining the respondents from preventing or interfering with the work of genuine NGO’s and media persons providing assistance.

f. Directions for the security to be upgraded with immediate effect.
g. Directions for appointment of a responsible person as Court Commissioner to visit the riot affected areas and the relief camps and to make a report about the conditions and to make recommendations regarding what is needed to be done urgently.

h. Pass any other order which this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper to do complete justice to the matter/case.”

GNCTD is directed to ensure that all the riot victims, who may be shelterless were provided with accommodation, at Community Centres or at Night Shelters operated by Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board.

Adding to the above, provision of food, water and medical aid shall also be provided to the victims.

GNCTD and EDMC shall furthermore, individually and jointly, ensure that sanitation, cleanliness and hygiene is properly and regularly maintained at the locations/centres/shelters, where the riot victims are to be housed.

The petition is to be re-notified on 30-03-2020. [Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine Del 500 , decided on 27-03-2020]