April 17, 2020 8:31:41 pm
The Delhi High Court Friday turned down the request of a charitable trust seeking to supply essential items to the residents of Chandni Mahal, observing that “it is the duty of courts” to ensure that the efforts of the executive administration are “not subjected to roadblocks”.
The UT government had announced Chandni Mahal area of Old Delhi as one of the containment zones on April 10, and sealed the area in order to prevent the spread of coroonavirus. Last week, 184 people, including 138 foreign nationals were traced to 13 mosques in Chandni Mahal and eventually, 55 tested positive for the virus.
However, a trust known as Civilian Welfare and Development Trust, moved the High Court (HC) and sought contempt action against Delhi government on the ground that they have violated their own undertaking given before the court on April 8, with regard to allowing them to provide essential services across the national capital.
However, their contention was struck down by Justice C Hari Shankar, who observed; “…I deem it appropriate to note that in the present situation of crisis, following the novel COVID-19 pandemic with which, indeed, the whole world is concerned, the enforcement of isolation measures, by the government, is aimed at ensuring, as far as possible, limited exposure, of the country and its denizens, to the novel COVID-19 virus.”
Dismissing the trust’s contempt plea, Justice Shankar also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 and directed that the amount be deposited by “the petitioner (Civilian Welfare and Development Trust), by way of a crossed cheque favouring ‘PM Cares’ fund, within a period of two weeks after the lifting of lockdown by the Government”.
It further noted that the Centre as well as the state governments were “straining every sinew to achieve the aim and are committed to making no compromises on that score.”
“We have, as it is, naysayers aplenty, and it is the duty of courts to step in and ensure that the efforts, of the executive administration, to somehow tide over the crisis, are not subjected to roadblocks in the form of abortive and ill-conceived litigative exercises. This court, were it to at all entertain the present contempt petition would, in my view, be acting in eminent opposition to public interest.”
The trust’s office, which is located at Chandni Mahal, filed the plea seeking appropriate passes for their movement during the lockdown period for supplying various essential items like ration, food, medicines, etc. to the persons in need. It also claimed that they were earlier given passes, which was valid till April 14 and was supposed to be extended.
Delhi government’s counsel, meanwhile, submitted that “strict adherence to April 10 containment order, is necessary, in order to check for the spreading of the novel COVID-19, which has ravaged the globe.”
The counsel on behalf of Delhi government argued that due to the rising number of cases in the area, a conscious decision had been taken to not extend the passes issued to the petitioner or allow access to containment zone.
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