Mehak Kaushik ~ [ April24 To April29 ]
ALLAHABAD HC ISSUES CONDONE NOTICE TO STATE ELECTION COMMISSIONER OVER DEATH OF 135 PANCHAYAT ELECTION DUTY STAFF DUE TO COVID-19
Division Bench of Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Ajit Kumar has issued judicial notice to UP State Election Commission, Lucknow to explain as to why it failed in checking non-compliance of Covid guidelines during various phases of the panchayat elections which resulted in death of 135 persons who were on the election duty during panchayat elections in State.
The Court asked the Commission to condone why action was not taken against it and its officials for such violations.
The Bench observed “It appears that neither the Police nor, Election Commission did anything to save the people on election duty from getting infected by this deadly virus.”
The order stated “The State Election Commission is further directed to take immediately all such measures in forthcoming phases of panchayat elections in the State to ensure that the covid guidelines dated 20.04.2021 of social distancing and face masking is religiously compiled with, else action is liable to be taken against the officials involved in the election process.”
JUDICIAL OFFICERS WILL TRACK “CHAOTIC” SITUATION IN UP: ALLAHABAD HC
Division Bench of Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Ajit Kumar while hearing a PIL on Pandemic issued orders for judicial officers to be appointed as nodal officers in nine worst-hit districts who will report every weekend about the prevailing situation. The reports submitted by the nodal officers will be placed before it during hearings to ensure compliance of directions issued by the court to the state government. District Judges of Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar, Agra, Gorakhpur, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar and Jhansi to nominate a judicial officer of the rank of Civil Judge (senior division) or above as nodal officer. The state government must ensure that every death in hospitals and facilities dedicated to Covid treatment is reported to the nodal officers.
The Court aforesaid that “those in power must shun the attitude of ‘my way or no way’ and should welcome suggestions from all the quarters.”
The Court observed that “those with resources will survive and the rest, as “histories of past pandemics tell us, may die for want of proper healthcare.”
SUPREME COURT STAYS THE ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT ORDER WHICH IMPOSED LOCKDOWN IN 5 CITIES OF UP
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who was representing the UP Government asserted that “lockdown in these 5 cities by judicial order may not be the right approach as it will create immense administrative difficulties and asserted that the Government of UP was doing the essential to contain the COVID-19 situation”.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde who headed the bench, after hearing the arguments of the SA, stayed the operation of the judgement. The SC further has solicited a report from the UP Government on the steps taken by them regarding the curb of COVID-19 pandemic. It has also appointed PS Narasimha, a senior advocate as an amicus curiae to assist it in the matter.
For now, the SC has posted the matter for two weeks.
INFLICT LOCKDOWN IN 5 CITIES TILL APRIL 26: ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT
After taking note that the recent outpouring of COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed all medical infrastructure in the state of U.P. , the Allahabad HC on Monday (19 April) imposed lockdown in 5 cities - Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur till 26 April.
The court stated that “since no concrete plan had been yet been chalked out by the Government of U.P.” the court had to step in.
Observations made by the Bench of Justice Ajit Kumar and Justice Siddhartha Varma:-
“Before (the Pandemic) further spirals to engulf in it the entire population of these badly hit districts, it is necessary to take some harsh steps in.
We are of the view that in a democracy there are legitimate expectations from the government to adopt measures to meet public health issues like all other issues of public interest. Public interest expects judiciary to remain vigilant to all the issues which if not addressed to in time, will result in the failure of the system which is meant to safeguard public interest.
In any civilized society, if public health system is not able to meet the challenges and people die for want of proper medication, it means there has been no proper development. Health and Education go side-by-side.”
In a firm remark, the Court holds up the UP Government and said “Those in the helm of affairs of governance are to be blamed for the present chaotic health problems and more so when there is a democracy which means a government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
The Court gave strict guidelines that need to be followed in these 5 cities and also directed the government to strictly enforce them.
The Court also directed the government to take into consideration the imposition of lockdown in the entire state for at least a period of 2 weeks as this would help in breaking the chain of the virus spread as well as give some relief to the health workers.
Now the matter has been posted for further hearing on 26th April.
CHALLENGING ALLAHABAD HC ORDER IN SUPREME COURT: UP GOVERNMENT
UP Government proceeded to Supreme Court challenging the order of the Allahabad High Court of administering lockdown to be imposed in 5 cities of the state between the rising cases of COVID-19.
The hearing of the petition will be heard on Wednesday before the Chief Justice of India (CJI) which was mentioned for listing by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The UP Government has challenged the HC’s orders pointing out that it is outside the jurisdiction of the judiciary to order a lockdown to be imposed in parts of the state.