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 B. V. Nagarathna, J. referring to it’s earlier order dated 13-04-2020 addressed the present petition and certain significant issues in the view of COVID 19 situation have been noted with regard to compliance of the same.

With regard to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) supplying food and rendering the services, a circular has been issued by the  Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Government of Karnataka, and Member of the Committee directing all the Deputy Commissioners to co- ordinate the activities of NGOs for COVID-19 and also the volunteers at the district level and municipal level. 

Nodal officers at the district level to be appointed to co-ordinate with the NGOs and to identify  a lead NGO to co-ordinate with other NGOs was stated in the Circular issued by the Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department on 15-04-2020.

Individual willing to supply food, either cooked food or in the form of ration kits are also plenty in number in the State. 

Court asked the State Government to create a machinery or mechanism so that the individuals could submit their willingness to provide cooked food and ration kits.

“Government must come out with an appropriate mechanism so that maximum advantage can be taken by the Government of those individuals who are willing to provide food.”

Plight of people belonging to the vulnerable sections of the society and marginalized sections of the society which consists of migrants, homeless persons, destitutes, sex workers, etc. who do not have a shelter, was considered.

For the above, it was stated that State Government has taken a policy decision that unless a person produces a ration card issued by the State Government or any other State, rations will not be provided through the public distribution system.

Another policy decision was with regard to vulnerable poor households and migrant workers with shelter would be provided dry ration or cooked food, as the case may be. State Government for the said stated that, identification of the people needing food or shelter or both would be done by the Revenue Department with the support of the respective Gram Panchayats or the respective local bodies in the districts.

State needs to elaborate on the quantum of dry ration or cooked food. State Government will also have to co-ordinate with the suppliers of LPG Cylinder so that provision for supply of dry ration becomes really effective.

On the above aspect, State Government must respond on the next date.

“… task of identification of those people who are in need of food must be undertaken by the State and other authorities/instrumentalities on a war footing.”

Further the Court noted that, BBMP has not evolved any mechanism to identify vulnerable sections of the society. The response received from them was that Marshals have been deployed but how many such people have been so far identified cannot be told yet.

Even after 22 days of lockdown, BBMP did not come out with any plan to identify the vulnerable sections of people. Thus, State government is directed to immediately step in and ensure that BBMP complies with its statutory obligations as well as the obligations under the directions issued contained in Circular dated 11-04-2020.

Further, the Bench directed the State government to co-ordinate with BBMP officers and submit a detailed report about the compliance made by BBMP with the directions in the Circular dated 11th April, 2020.

“Considering the seriousness of the situation within the city, now the State Government must step in.”

State Government will take a serious note of the fact that even after completion of 22 or 23 days of lockdown, BBMP has no plan or no scheme in place to identify the vulnerable sections of people to whom the BBMP was under an obligation to extend relief as provided in the Circular dated 11th April, 2020.

Lastly, extending the period of one month contained in directions (i) to (iii) of its order dated 24th March, 2020, the High Court directed that now the interim orders, bail orders due to expire will operate till 5th June, 2020. Also, eviction/dispossession/demolition orders already passed will remain in abeyance till 5th June, 2020.[Mohammed Arif Jameel v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 425 , decided on 16-04-2020]

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 BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta, JJ refused to entertain the interim application which sought direction to the Government for requisition of Hotels, Resorts, Government Guest Houses, State Bhavans and Sadans etc. for the purpose of housing and providing shelter to migrant workers. The Court said that it did not need to entertain the matter as the Union of India had already addressed the issue.

The Court arrived to the said finding after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the Court that the State Governments have been requisitioning private properties including hotels, apartments etc. as and when required.

Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava had filed an interim application seeking the aforementioned direction.

[Alakh Alok Srivastava v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 352, order dated 03.04.2020]

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]