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‘Restrictions can’t be applied retrospectively’: Delhi HC quashes FIR against man for ‘violating’ Covid quarantine guidelines

In wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre had issued guidelines in March asking people who have returned from China, France, Italy, Iran, Korea, Spain and Germany after February 15 to follow mandatory quarantine of 15 days.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
October 13, 2021 7:59:24 pm
Delhi High Court, talaq ruleDelhi HC. (File photo)

THE DELHI High Court has quashed an FIR registered against a man by East district’s Madhu Vihar police station in April 2020 for allegedly violating a guideline requiring foreign returnees to remain in quarantine for 15 days after arrival in India.

Observing that it is well settled that a restriction cannot be applied retrospectively, the court in the order passed Tuesday said the March 24, 2020, guidelines on quarantine were applicable for people entering India on or after February 15 and the same “could not have been given further retrospective operation for the petitioner who had arrived in the country on February 5, 2020”. Sarmad Ahmad cannot be subjected to prosecution for the offences mentioned in the case, added the court.

“Though the case in the chargesheet is for violation on March 19, 20 and 23, 2020, till March, 30, 2020, however, now in the status report it is alleged that the petitioner was out on April 3, 2020. It is thus evidence that an all together new case is being made out in the status report which is contrary to the chargesheet,” said Justice Mukta Gupta in the order.

Ahmad was booked in April 2020 under IPC section 188 and section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act. He had left India for France in October 2019 and returned on February 5, 2020, when no orders directing quarantine were in force.

In wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre had issued guidelines in March asking people who have returned from China, France, Italy, Iran, Korea, Spain and Germany after February 15 to follow mandatory quarantine of 15 days.

An official from the health department visited Ahmad on March 14 to ask him about his travel plans. He did not have any symptoms of Covid. In December 2020, he came to know about the FIR which was registered on the basis of call detail records showing he had visited various places.

In March 2021, he was issued a notice by police and was later summoned in July.

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