Madras High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Madras High Court: S M Subramaniam, J. observing that it is painful to pen down that the colonial slavery system of extracting household and menial works in the residences of the higher Police officials are still prevailing in the State of Tamil Nadu and is a slap on the Constitution and the Democracy of our great Nation directed that this the slavery system of engaging uniformed Police personnel in the residences of the higher officials must be abolished forthwith.

The writ petition was filed under Article 226, Constitution of India, praying for the issuance of a writ of Certiorari, calling for the records relating to Form-C dated 07-01-2014 issued under Rule 8, Tamil Nadu Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Rules, 1978 by the Respondent 3 herein.

Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu issued a memorandum dated 05-08-2022, instructing the Police officials to strictly follow the Government Orders and the interim orders passed by the High Court against the usage of Police personnel for household work consequent to which it was informed to the Court that 19 Police personnel were withdrawn and put on regular departmental duties.

The Court noted that it is aware that large number of uniformed Police personnel are still performing household and menial works in the residences of the higher Police officials and the instructions issued by the Government dated 16-06-2022, have not been followed scrupulously by the Police department.

The Court further noted that mere communication and inter-departmental communications are insufficient, and implementation of the Government orders is of paramount importance. Once the Government has issued an order, it is needless to state that the Police department has to follow it scrupulously, failing which, they are liable to be prosecuted under the Service Rules.

The Court observed that such uniformed trained Police personnel are performing the household and menial jobs in the residences of the higher officials at the cost of the taxpayers’ funds. The public has a right to question the mindset of the higher officials.

The court remarked the Government of Tamil Nadu, pursuant to the Nationwide decision taken in the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s conference, abolished the Orderly System on 05-09-1979 in G.O. (Ms.) No.2231 and unfortunately, even after abolition, the practice is in force, despite the fact that the Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department, issued a clear mandate, through his letter dated 16-06-2022, pursuant to the directions of this Court. When the Government Orders are not followed scrupulously in their letter and spirit, an inference is to be drawn that higher Police officials are not functioning under the effective administrative control of the Government.

Pursuant to the memorandum passed by DGP, Tamil Nadu and lapse of about two months, very few uniformed personnel were withdrawn from the household and menial jobs being performed in the residences of the higher Police officials.

The Court opined that the slavery system of engaging uniformed Police personnel in the residences of the higher officials must be abolished forthwith, failing which, this Court will have no option, but to opt for other course of action under the provisions of the Constitution of India.

The Court thus suo motu impleaded Director General of Police, Mylapore, Chennai as a respondent and asked to file an affidavit regarding the complete implementation of the orders of this Court and the order passed by the Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department.

The Court further directs Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu to file a status report/affidavit before the Court on or before 18-08-2022.

[U Manickavel v. State, WP No. 2627 of 2014, decided on 12-08-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. M. Deivanandam, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Mr. P. Kumaresan Additional Advocate General Assisted by Mrs. S. Anitha Special Government Pleader, Advocates, for the Respondents.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the police personnel of Mehrauli Police Station subjected a woman to extreme torture by stripping her and brutally beating with a belt in Lalitpur District of Uttar Pradesh. Reportedly, she was working as a domestic help at the residence of a police officer on the allegations of a theft in the house.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks including action against the responsible police officer and any relief granted the victim by the authorities.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports if true raise a serious issue of violation of human rights to the victim. The Police Officer and his family have not only misused their position but also subjected the victim to physical torture and cruelty.

According to the media report, the wife of the police officer locked the victim at her home in the evening of 2nd May, 2022. Her husband, a police official, came along with a lady Inspector and started interrogating her about a theft in the house. Besides beating her brutally, they also subjected her to water cannon and electric shocks to force her accept the allegations.

Later, sensing that the matter may snowball into a controversy, she was called to the Mehrauli police station where the police personnel tried to project the matter as a dispute with her husband and also initiated action against him for disturbing the peace.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 7-5-2022]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: M. Dhandapani, J., expressed that:

“…advocates are not above law and, in fact, it is the advocates who have to give more respect to the law, as it is their bread and butter.”

“Court should not be a mute spectator to the legal gimmicks…”

Factual Matrix

Respondent Police had registered a case wherein 2nd petitioner was stopped by police officials on duty while she was proceeding in her car. Her car was stopped as the lockdown was imposed and on query she responded that she had come out for the purpose of purchasing medicines, however, respondent 2 informed that she had stated that she came out for purchasing fish.

It was also stated that she had no valid pass for going out during the lockdown period.

In light of the above incident, a challan of Rs 500 was issued

Crux of the matter

The whole melee started on the issuance of challan, after which 2nd petitioner started quarrelling with police officials.

Overall scene that has led to the present matter was that, petitioner 1 claimed and proclaimed that she was an advocate, used filthy, abusive and unparliamentary language, used derogatory words and castigated the police officials on duty and in fact threatened them that they will be stripped off their uniforms, if they tried to intervene and cause any hindrance to the movement of the petitioners.

Police officials were smeared all over with mud by 1st petitioner. Hence, for total violation of lockdown guidelines and non-adherence to the provisions of the Disaster Management Act and violation of the provisions of the Penal Code, petitioners were slapped with by filing of the above complaint and further leading to registration of case.

In Court’s earlier order, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu was directed to file a status report as to the mechanism that was in place for taking action against those unruly advocates, who cast a slur by their act, demeaning the whole legal profession without bothering about the impact of their acts on the disciplined and law-abiding members of the legal fraternity.

As per the status report, a mechanism was envisaged under Section 35 of the Advocates Act for proceeding against a member of the Bar for unprofessional conduct or other misconduct. However, the said provision spoke only about the complaint received on which action is initiated by the Bar Council.

Though, from the status report it was not clear as to the suo motu powers of the Bar Council in dealing with such instances, where the unprofessional act comes to the knowledge of the Bar Council, though not on the basis of a complaint, in which case, the matters such as the present one goes unnoticed, though it was in the public domain and reached the ears and eyes of the public through the visual media.

Sine the status report was silent, it led to the inference that generally no action was taken against such persons, if there was no complaint before the Bar Council.

It is also not clear whether the Bar Council has deliberated on this aspect of initiation of suo motu action against such unruly members of the Bar, who damage and stature and sanctity of the institution and also the members associated with the said institution.

Police personnel | Frontline Workers

It is to be pointed out that the police personnel has been one of the frontline workers in trying to curb the spread of the deadly virus by maintaining the lockdown guidelines imposed by the Government from time to time since March, 2020 and it is further to be pointed out that the pandemic is not yet over and caution has been given about the on-coming of the 3rd and 4th wave, which are predicted to have a still more detrimental impact on the human race.

Police personnels have not only been working overtime but also working with least concern for their family and themselves and have been dedicating their lives to the cause of humanity. In such a scenario, the least expected of the general public and also the intellectual group of legal professionals that they should be given the minimum basic respect and courtesy while handing them.

Advocates Stature

Advocate because of his avocation and his social-minded acts, rise up the pedestal and in fact that was the reason law gave them the stature to question even the police. But that stature should be used in a legal and lawful manner without maligning the reputation and position of any individual person or any official of the Government.

Further, it was elaborated that,

Usage of the position of advocate for other than just causes is nothing but an act of corrupt nature, which requires to be cut down by the sword held in the hands of the statue of Justice.

The doyens of the Bar, more especially the Madras Bar, have held aloft the rule of law for centuries together and Madras Bar is always looked upon with awe and admiration.

 A very significant observation made by the Court was that, nowadays, a few members, just to enrich themselves and for their selfish cause, throw to the winds the larger interest of the legal fraternity and cause irreparable damage to the other members of the legal profession by their acts, as has been done in the present case. 

Bench noted that 1st petitioner indulged in the above-stated act in Infront of her daughter 2nd petitioner who was said to be a 4th-year student. In such a backdrop, it is more expected of the 1st petitioner to teach the 2nd petitioner the ethics for following the rule of law, as otherwise, her act as in the present case, would engrave upon the mind of the 2nd petitioner, which would not be a welcome sign to the legal profession.

High Court expressed that if it allowed such mindset to go unnoticed, it would be a great injustice that this Court would be doing to the legal profession and also to the genuine, dignified and respectful legal professionals, who respect this profession and the robes they wear and would also be sending a wrong signal to send 2nd petitioner who is slowly climbing up the ladder to enter the legal profession.

In view of the above discussion, Court did not grant anticipatory bail to the 1st petitioner.

With regard to 2nd petitioner, Court stated that mere quarrelling with the police officials cannot be said to be a wrongful act, which would attract the penal provisions pressed into service by the respondents against 2nd petitioner and any view taken to the contra would be negating the rights guaranteed to the citizens under the Constitution.

Law Enforcement Agency and their role

The law enforcing agency is manned by persons, who have experience in dealing with criminals and not each and every individual, who commits a mistake should be branded as a criminal by bringing the individual within the four corners of the penal code.

Unnecessary infliction of charges of this nature on every individual would only make the individual look into the loopholes of the system and try to wriggle out of the same after committing mistakes, which should be avoided at all costs.

Hence, Bench stated that respondents shall ponder dropping of all the charges made against 2nd petitioner as there was no substance in the said charges.

Bar Councils’ Mechanism to deal with erring Advocates

Law has given the legal professional privilege and status, but the said privilege is to be used sparingly and only for upholding the majesty of law and following the rule of law. It is not given for the purpose of maligning the rule of law and demeaning the other members of the Bar to the benefit of the individual.

Any infraction by this Court in not safeguarding the interest of the legal profession would be a doom for the entire judiciary and the legal fraternity as a whole.

 Bar Council in its report submitted that it takes action only when it receives any complaint against any erring advocate.  However, what this Court was more bothered about was the fact that not all unprofessional conduct or other misconducts lead to a complaint being written by the Bar Council.

Any unprofessional conduct of a member of the legal profession, coming to the knowledge of the Bar Council through the visual media for which no complaint emanates from any quarter, can the Bar Council allow that instance to go unnoticed for the mere reason that the Advocates Act does not envisage suo motu action?

Court feels that it is high time the Bar Council enforces Section 35 of the Advocates Act, which gives it power and authority to initiate action suo motu on the incidents, which comes to its knowledge through the digital/print media, for which there is no complaint given by any individual.

In view of the above discussions, 2nd petitioner deserves anticipatory bail while dismissing the petitioner insofar as 1st petitioner.

Another issue that the Court dealt was a WhatsApp audio which was circulated by one R. Krishnamurthi, a member of the Bar who circulated the audio on social networking platforms attributing mala fides to the Bench.

advocate has further stated that I should recuse from hearing the case any further and has also attributed dishonesty and also stated that I am taking a lopsided view in favour of the law enforcing agency. Though I have called only for certain particulars, the advocate has gone on to make allegations that I have taken a biased view and I am leaning towards the law enforcing agency and has even casted aspersions against me openly in the social networking domain

Adding to the above, Bench also noted that the advocate imputed allegations against the Judiciary in falling to take any action against the law enforcing agency for very many irregularities committed by them during the pandemic situation, which are not in consonance with law.

The act of the advocate is very much contumacious and attracts initiation of criminal contempt proceedings. The whole audio paints a very gloomy picture and without any material aspersions are attributed against the Bench.

It was noted that the said Krishnamoorthy was a total stranger to the proceedings, yet he had made derogatory statements in the social media against the judicial functions of the Bench, including seeking Judge’s recusal, which was nothing but interference with the administration of justice.

Hence, High Court held that the act of aforesaid advocate attracted Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act.

This Court would not fall prey to such acts perpetrated by gossip mongers and unscrupulous elements, with a view to scuttle the judicial process and make the judiciary dance to their tunes.

Bench directed Registry to issue notice regarding initiation of Suo Motu Criminal Contempt proceedings against the said R. Krishnamoorthy as provided for under Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act and, thereafter, place the matter before the Hon’ble Chief Justice for being listed before the appropriate Bench for hearing. [Tanuja Rajan v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2242, decided on 18-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioners: Ms. A.Louisal Ramesh

For Respondent : Mr. A.Gopinath, GA (Crl. Side) for R-1 Mr. Haja Mohideen Gisthi for R-2


Madras HC | Is there any mechanism to take action against members of legal fraternity for their misbehaviour with officials on duty? Bar council of Tamil Nadu to respond

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Atul Sreedharan, J., took up a petition which was filed aggrieved by the action of the respondents, who in an arbitrary and unlawful manner made the petitioner an accused in a criminal case by falsely implicating him.

Petitioner states that he had gone to Bhopal along with his friends from where he was unlawfully picked up by the Police and taken to PS Piplani and kept there for two days. In the petition, the petitioner had specifically taken the name of the Head Constable, Constables and other police personnel. When this fact came to the knowledge of the family members of the petitioner, they visited the police station, where on enquiry they were informed by the police that they will leave the petitioner after sometime. The applicant had moved an application before the Special Judge NDPS on 01-03-2021 that the CCTV footage from 22-02-2021 till 24-02-2021 of Police Station Piplani be secured and brought before the Court, which would clearly reveal that the petitioner was in the unlawful custody of respondent 5 during that period.

However, the police report that was given to the Court which disclosed the reason why the CCTV footage cannot be given was on account of the non-functioning of the CCTV cameras in the Thana. Prosecutor stated that the footage cannot be given because it would reveal the identity of the source informant who was present in the police station, which logically means that the CCTV cameras were functioning and there was indeed footage. The police on the other hand said that the cameras itself had turned dysfunctional from 17-02-2021.

The Court felt that in order to cover up instances of unlawful detention by the police, the police comes up with the argument that the CCTV cameras are disfunctional. Such a stand taken by the police does not augur well for the ordinary citizens of the State. It creates an environment of giving an opportunity to the Police to act with impunity in complete disregard to human rights and personal liberty and enables them to detain anyone in the police station and conveniently give an explanation that the CCTV cameras were dysfunctional during the period which the citizen says that he was unlawfully detained in the police station.

The case was listed to be heard on 14-06-2021 and the Court directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG- Bhopal (Urban), Police Headquarters, Bhopal and the Superintendent of Police South Bhopal to remain present with the explanation as to why the cameras were disfunctional from 17.2.2021, whether the authorities who had to be informed about the disfunctionality of the cameras, were duly so informed by the SHO of PS Piplani, Bhopal and if they were so informed, what were the steps taken forthwith by those officials to have the cameras rectified in the shortest possible time.

The Superintendent of Police stated that the cameras installed at PS Piplani were functional till 22-02-2021. He also stated that after the expiry of the AMC a fresh AMC was yet to be issued and there were cameras which were disfunctional in 14 other Thanas under his jurisdiction besides PS Piplani. He has stated that the AMC had to be issued from the Telecommunications Department, which was responsible for making the budgetary allocations.  Counsel for the petitioner had placed before this Court the order passed by the Supreme Court on 02-12-2020 in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2021) 1 SCC 184, where a three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court had passed interim directions. In the said order, the Supreme Court had directed that the Oversight Committees at the State and District levels were to be constituted in accordance with the order passed by the Supreme Court on 03-04-2018.

In paragraph 12, the Supreme Court directed that it shall be the duty of State Level Oversight Committee to ensure that the directions passed by the Supreme Court are enforced and amongst its duties were purchase, distribution and installation of CCTVs and its equipment, obtaining the budgetary allocation for the same, continuous monitoring of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipments, carrying out inspections and addressing the grievances received from the District Level Oversight Committee and call for monthly reports of the District Level Oversight Committee and immediately address any concerns like faulty equipment. The Supreme Court also directed that the District Level Oversight Committee shall have the obligation of supervision, maintenance and upkeep of CCTV and its equipment, continuous monitoring and of maintenance and upkeep of CCTVs and its equipments, to interact with the Station House Officer as to functioning and maintenance of the CCTVs and its equipment, send monthly reports to the State Level Oversight Committee about the functioning of the CCTVs and allied equipment and review footage stored from CCTVs in the various Police Stations to check for any human rights violation that may have occurred, but are not reported.

The Court directed that the Superintendent of Police, Bhopal (South), shall file an affidavit with regard to the failure of CCTV cameras at Police Station Piplani. The respondent 5-the Station House Officer of Police Station Piplani, Bhopal shall also file a separate affidavit with regard to the failure of the CCTV cameras in his Police Station, the date on which he came to know and the action taken by him. Respondent 2 Director General of Police shall also file an affidavit with regard to the extent of compliance of the order passed by the Supreme Court in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2021) 1 SCC 184.

Matter further to be heard on 28-06-02021.[Ritwik Kaushal v. State of M.P., WP-8145 of 2021,dated- 11-06-2021, decided on 14-06-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance:

Counsel for the petitioner: Mr Anurag Gohil

Govt. Advocate for the respondent/State: Mr Ritwik Parashar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: M. Dhandapani, J., stated that the Court has noticed where the legal fraternity has indulged in some high-handed activity against the law enforcing agency.

It has been stated that amidst pandemic, health workers and uniformed services have been performing arduous duty with due diligence and with scant care for their health and well-being. Each and every common man throughout the country had recognized and applauded their efforts, yet a few miscreants, who, with scant respect to the work done by law enforcing agency, indulge in a tussle with police personnel.

Additionally, it was stated that some miscreants of the legal fraternity also do fall in the above-stated league.

Society has witnessed very many instances of the legal fraternity indulging in war of words as also scuffle with the police personnel, but most of the times, the members of the legal fraternity do keep themselves within the bounds of law.

No Mechanism for unruly behaviour of members of the legal fraternity?

For unruly and indiscipline behaviour, other persons, who work for one or other arm of the Government, mechanism of disciplinary action is contemplated under the relevant Acts and Rules governing the service, yet, when it comes to the legal fraternity, the initiative and control vests on the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, to take appropriate action against such of those unruly advocates who involve themselves in these kinds of acts, which demeans the profession.

However, the mechanism that is in place to take action against such individuals, who involve themselves in indisciplined acts and misbehave with the officials on duty, are not clearly spelt out by the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu.

High Court directed the authorized officer of Bar Council of Tamil Nadu to file an appropriate status report before this Court as to the mechanism that is in place for taking action against the members of the legal fraternity as also the action that has been taken against such of those advocates, who have misbehaved in the public place with officials on duty.[Tanuja Rajan v. State,    2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2203, decided on 15-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioner: Mr. Louisal Ramesh

For Respondent: Mr. A. Gopinath Government Advocate (Crl. side)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Bibek Chaudhari and Soumen Sen, JJ., addressed a matter wherein a reporter published a story on witnessing the police personnel bribing a truck driver and further driving negligent get hold of the truck resulting in the death of a person.

Petitioner a reporter of ETV Bharat made a news report stating, inter alia that some police personnel was collecting bribe from a truck loaded with sand and while chasing the truck, the vehicle owned by the police department was being driven in a rash and negligent manner.

The result of the rash and negligent driving caused the death of a person.

Above was the prima facie reason for lodging a complaint against the petitioner.

Bench on perusal of the materials on record stated that, it is a fundamental right of a press reporter to publish any news, which may not be palatable to the administration.

In order to stifle and muzzle the voice of the reporter this case has been registered against the petitioner.

Court also noted the fact that the police have taken cognizance of the report which prima facie discloses the offences committed by its own personnel.

Hence, in view of the above, Police Superintendent of the District concerned has been directed to initiate enquiry regarding registration of the FIR against the ETV reporter and to investigate about the collection of money by the police personnel, the incident of which has been published by the reporter and to take appropriate action against the offenders.

Therefore, the petitioner shall be released on bail. [Avishek Dutta Roy, In Re., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1319, decided on 30-07-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: Rohit B. Deo, J., while addressing a PIL with serious and disturbing facets of enforcement of lockdown directives by the police force, held that,

“Human dignity and rights cannot be sacrificed at the alter of extraordinary situations nor can the constitutional right to a dignified life be hostage to supposed intentions.”

Petitioner submitted that while enforcing the lockdown directives to combat COVID-19, certain personnel of the police force grossly violated human rights. He also contended that, while police force was discharging duties, certain instances were highlighted in the petition as a blot.

Persons who allegedly violated the lockdown directives, including senior citizens on morning walks, are subjected to inhuman indignities.

It was further submitted that, photographs of the lockdown violators, which include elderly citizens and respected professionals, have been published in prominent newspapers and have gone viral on social media.

Petitioner in view of the above submitted that,

making a humiliating spectacle of the violators is a serious infringement of human rights and the constitutional right guaranteed under Article 21.

Court requested Additional Government Pleader K.S. Joshi to ascertain whether the instances which are highlighted have as a fact occurred, to which she responded that while certain instances did occur in the first phase of lockdown, the humiliating photographs have not been published by the police, however she requested time from Court on the aspect that whether the photographs were taken by the police personnel.

Bench stated that,

“..police personnel who have indulged in a blatant violation of human dignity were expected to be alive to our society being a civilized society governed by the rule of law. While extraordinary situations may call for extraordinary measures, the measures must have the sanction of law.”

Thus Court requested Police Commissioner to senstivise the personnel under his command to ensure that such sordid incidents do not occur.

While this Court trusts that the top echelons of the police machinery shall ensure that there shall be no further violation of human rights while enforcing the lockdown, should a single such incident be noticed, Court expects the Police Commissioner to hold the senior officer within whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, accountable. [Sandip Madhu Nair v. State, LD-VC-PIL-35 of 2020, decided on 08-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Acting on a complaint, the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC,India has issued a notice to the DGP, Maharashtra over mob lynching of three persons in the presence of police in Palghar District on the 16th April, 2020.

It has called for a detailed report within four weeks including action taken against the culprits and relief, if any, granted to the Next of Kin, NoK of the deceased persons.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has observed that the incident is apparently indicative of negligence by the public servants. The death of three persons in such a cruel manner by the unruly mob that too during countrywide lockdown, under extra vigil by the administration and police, amounts to gross violation of the right to life of the victims.

According to the complaint as well as the media reports, the victims, Sushil Giri and Kalpavriksh Giri, belonging to a sect of Sadhus, were going to attend a funeral when they along with the driver of their car were attacked by an unruly mob on suspicion that they were thieves.

The video of the attack on the deceased persons went viral, on 19.04.2020, which showed that police personnel were also present when the victims were being attacked.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 21-04-2020]

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, 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 695, decided on 01-04-2020]