Case Briefs

Justice Shri A.K. Mishra, Chairperson of, National Human Rights Commission, India today said that leaving widows to fend for themselves has to be discouraged by making it punishable under law to stop this practice. Expressing serious concerns over the living conditions of the widows in Mathura-Vrindavan and Varanasi, he said that the property rights of widows need to be restored to redress their plight and make a way for their dignified living.

Justice Mishra was chairing a meeting on the human rights issues of widows residing in shelter homes in Mathura-Vrindavan and Varanasi. He said that Government functionaries have to be made accountable for the non-implementation of the welfare schemes, if basic amenities are not provided to the destitute widows resulting in violation of their human rights including the right to food, shelter, dignity and property. He said that the ground reality of various shelter homes for the widows need to be assessed at the earliest.

Justice Mishra said that formulating schemes for the welfare of destitute widows is not just sufficient enough unless their proper implementation is ensured. He said that the focus should be on their skill development to make them self-reliant for their livelihood.

Some of the other important suggestions that emerged during the discussions were as follows:-

– Conduct a study to assess the number of widows living in Mathura-Vrindavan and Varanasi;

– Increase their monthly pension to ensure that they may have adequate resources to meet their basic requirements;

– Expand the scope of various welfare schemes, including Aayushman Bharat to extend the benefits to the destitute widows.

National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 20-07-2021]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Sikkim High Court: The Division Bench of Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari, CJ. and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J., took up a perused affidavit submitted by the State which dealt with four things. It included Covid care facilities in the State, vaccination drive of the State, proposed setting up of Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) and proposed policy to meet the third wave.

With regard to the Covid care facilities, it was submitted that there is one Covid Dedicated Hospital, 2 Dedicated Covid Health Centres and 28 Covid Care Centres in the State. The Court observed that the affidavit was, however, silent on which guideline that has been followed by the State, what was the requirement as per the guidelines and what are the measures taken and facilities provided as per the guidelines including the human resources.

The State submitted that the vaccines are allotted by the Centre in an equitable manner as per the population of the State. The affidavit, however, was silent about any attempt being made by the State to communicate with the Centre to increase the quota of vaccines keeping in mind the unique factors in the Sikkim situation.

In relation to setting up of VRDL was concerned, the affidavit stated that the request of the State for setting up VRDL at district Namchi had been refused although no information was provided as to why it was refused. The Court stated that it becomes more important because of the previous orders passed by this Court, whereby they had implored the Centre as well as the State to act in unison to set up such testing facilities in all the districts of Sikkim.

The Court noted that State respondents had requested for Mobile I-LABS as well as two Mobile Testing Laboratories and that they have approved the proposal of TATA MEDICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC (TATA MD) to establish RTPCR laboratory for the Namchi and Gyalshing District Hospitals, within 6 to 8 weeks.

The Court showed concern about the time sought by the Additional Advocate General to submit a policy to meet the third wave of Covid and about action being sought to be taken by the State Government against a Medical Practitioner for unauthorized RAT testing.

The Court took cognizance of the report in Sikkim Express titled “Covid outbreak in South shelter home” which reported that 25 covid positive cases have been reported from Mangalbarey in South District including 16 from a shelter home there. It is further reported that the infected children and the staff of Mangalbarey shelter home have been shifted to Covid Care Centre at CCCT Chisopani. The report further mentions that recently 21 children and 3 caretakers of a Child Care Institute at Rabongla had tested COVID-19 positive and are presently admitted at the Covid care centre, Kamrang. The report also voices the concern that shelter homes, childcare institutions and other similar institutions cannot totally follow the COVID-19 protocols like social distancing for practical reasons and as such few initial COVID-19 cases quickly infect the other persons staying in institutions and become covid hotspots.

The Court directed the State o immediately take stock of the situation in all shelter homes, childcare institutions, old age homes, destitute homes, observation homes, open shelters, place of safety, special homes and all other such care facilities available in the State, both governmental and non-governmental, to insulate the inmates and staff from the pandemic.[Covid 19 Management, In Re., 2021 SCC OnLine Sikk 88, decided on 07-07-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Madras High Court: A Division Bench of M. Sathyanarayanan and Dr Anita Sumanth, JJ. asked for a comprehensive report to be submitted since the accommodation and transportation of the migrant workers stranded in the State of Tamil Nadu is looming at large.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the form of various administrative instructions have been issued with relating to migrant workers/Labourers.

It has been submitted that, some of the migrant workers do not have authenticated cards on the form of Aadhar Cards, etc. and NGOs are trying their level best to coordinate with Governmental Agencies for registration and transportation but still there are some problems thus the same needs to be addressed and emergent directions needs to be passed.

Government Pleader, V. Jayaprakash Narayan submitted that comprehensive guidelines have been placed based upon MHA Order wherein the following was stated:

Inter-State movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places due to lockdown and said Order mandated State Governments to designate Nodal officers to have coordination with respective State/UTs Governments to ensure orderly receiving and sending of stranded people between State of Tamil Nadu and other State/UTs as per SOPs issues.

Court while hearing the arguments placed a specific query with regard to identification of shelter homes/places wherein migrant workers were waiting for transportation to their Home States could be accommodated .

Court also took judicial notice of the fact that in arterial roads, migrant workers were exhibiting their anxiety to reach Railway Station and were not maintaining the social/physical distancing and do not possess sufficient protective masks and thus State’s immediate concern should be to accommodate them i shelter homes.

Assistant Solicitor General of India, G. Rajagopalan submitted that Ministry of Railways operated number of ‘Shramik’ Special Trains to transport migrant workers and though some of the States are not permitting the entry of migrant workers, State Government concerned needs to coordinate with the State Governments.

Court asked for a comprehensive Status Report to be filed with regard keeping in view the accommodation and transportation of migrant workers stranded in State of Tamil Nadu and the effective measures/workable solutions in terms of SOPs formulated.

The NGOs shall also coordinated with the migrant workers as their orderly behaviour and render necessary help to board trains. [S. Thilakraj v. Union of India, WP  No.7702 of 2020, decided on 19-05-2020]

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]

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:/ / 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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A 2-Judge Bench comprising of Dilip B Bhosale, CJ. and Yashwant Varma, J., dealt with a public interest litigation for giving directions for the purpose of protecting shelter homes as a lot of cases were coming where the shelter homes management were in question.

The matter came for review before the Court for further directions pursuant to the earlier order passed in these proceedings. Additional Advocate General submitted that proposals formulated would help the Court in passing further directions and for formulation of policy for monitoring shelter homes in the State. Court noted that it was directed by the State to the Director, Academy of Management Studies, Lucknow to undertake a social audit of all shelter homes, however, no audit was actually conducted. In another order, a seven-member committee was created to formulate directives for shelter homes in the State. Interim directions were given to District Judges to form monitoring committee for inspection of shelter homes.

The Additional Chief Secretary had brought before the Court that currently there were no codified norms to protect the shelter homes except the ones established or run under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Court did not agree with the averments of Additional Chief Secretary and mentioned provisions of Swadhar Greh Scheme framed by the Union Government related to shelter homes.

Last direction to be given was related to installation of CCTV cameras which was contested by the Additional Chief Secretary to have been already installed. With above directions, the Court disposed of this petition. [Abuse of Girls in a Women Shelter Home, Deoria, In re, (PIL) No. 4112 of 2018, order dated 05-09-2018]

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Division Bench of V.K. Bist and Alok Singh, JJ. has ordered in a Public Interest Litigation to shift all stray dogs with the State to shelter houses within six months.

The question before the Court was whether the life of a citizen is important than the stray dogs and whether the State authorities are duty bound/responsible for protecting/saving the life of the public of the State from the dog biting of stray dogs. Petitioner submitted that during last five years, more than eleven thousand cases of dog biting have come into light in which several persons have died also.

Though counsel for the State submitted that the work in this regard is to be done by the respective municipal bodies but considering the importance of the matter, the Court directed the Chief Secretary of the State to issue necessary directions to all concerned for taking appropriate steps in this regard. It was also made clear that the direction issued by the Chief Secretary of the State will be binding on all the authorities and non-compliance of the same would be treated as contempt of Court.

First of all, the authority concerned will have to determine the number of stray dogs in every town, city, and village. Necessary arrangements will have to be made for the construction of shelter house in every place. Court also suggested that the State Government may consider for making a law regarding the killing of dangerous stray dogs. The municipal and local authorities will also have to verify from each and every house whether their dogs are registered with the municipal board and if they found that the dogs are not registered they would ensure the registration as per law. [Girish Chandra Kholia v. State Of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 556, order dated 14-06-2018]