Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Goutam Bhaduri, JJ. addressed the petition along with the intervention application questioning the Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited’s order to take steps for initiating preparations to operate liquor shops in the State.

Issue in the present matter is with regard to the constitution of a committee to take steps for initiating preparations to operate the liquor shops throughout the State of Chhattisgarh.

Petitioner and Intervenor’s counsel submitted that Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs has not granted any relaxation allowing the State Government to operate the liquor shops during the lockdown period as notified by the National Disaster Management Authority on 24-03-2020 and by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Neither the State Government nor the Marketing Corporation had the authority to take steps to operate the liquor shops for the reason that no such relaxation for operation of liquor shops had been granted either by the National Disaster Management Authority or the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Court noted that,

State Government decided to extend ban on sale of liquor through retail shops/bar licence till 14.04.2020 when the lock-down notification issued by the Central Government remains in force. If the Marketing Corporation’s order dated 02.04.2020 was in contemplation of an order by the State Government allowing operation of liquor shops after 07.04.2020, the same having not happened, the Corporation’s order dated 02.04.2020 cannot be allowed to remain intact. Therefore, it deserves to be and is hereby quashed.

Bench disposed of the petition as well as as the intervention application while reserving the liberty in favour of the State government to take decision in the matter based on the proposed fresh lockdown notification to be issued by the NDMA or MHA, as the case may be. [Mamta Sharma v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 55, decided on 13-04-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the writ petition seeking implementation of Disaster Management Act, 2005 as many States were not fully prepared to deal with a disaster and therefore necessary directions ought to be given by this Court for proper implementation of the Act, the Court said that it is absolutely necessary for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) constituted at the national level and the State Disaster Management Authority at the State level to be ever vigilant and ensure that if any unfortunate disaster strikes there should be total preparedness and that minimum standards of relief are provided to all concerned.

The writ petition was filed after the unprecedented flood and landslide disaster that occurred in Uttarakhand in 2013 and it was alleged that the adverse impact of disaster could have been mitigated had there been effective implementation of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and adequate preparedness by the State Government of Uttarakhand. The Court, hence, sought affidavits from Central and State Governments and after showing some laxity at first, the Union Government, on 25th February, 2016 sent a communication to the Chief Secretaries of all the States by the Joint Secretary (Policy and Plan) of the NDMA and asked them to frame minimum standards of relief for victims of disaster.

Regarding the obligation to establishment of an Advisory Committee, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ said that Section 17 of the Act does not make it mandatory and it is really for the State Disaster Management Authority to constitute one or more Advisory Committee as and when it becomes necessary to do so on different aspects of disaster management.

The NDMA also submitted that all States except Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have prepared a State Disaster Management Plan which is very much in place and that the District Disaster Management Authority has been constituted in every district under Section 25 of the Act and out of 684 districts in the country, a District Disaster Management Plan is in place in 615 districts while it is under process in the remaining districts.

Considering the above submissions by the NDMA, the Court noticed that there has been sufficient compliance with the provisions of the Act, however, it would be advisable for the NDMA to regularly publish its Annual Report to review and update all plans on the basis of experiences and to make its website multilingual so that all concerned may benefit. [Gaurav Kumar Bansal v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 550, decided on 08.05.2017]