The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has said that while it expects effective measures from the state government for migrants and health workers in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the citizens, who are always protective about their fundamental rights, also need to remind themselves and discharge fundamental duties.
A single judge bench of Justice Prasanna B Varale made these observations on April 8 in a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) through which it took cognizance of various news reports about the problems faced by migrant and health workers among others.
Justice Varale noted that while the Centre, state governments and local bodies are issuing various directives to avoid gathering or congregation of people and appeals are being made for maintaining safe distance, there are instances reported in newspapers and television channels that some citizens are committing breach of these guidelines ‘very casually’ and that some are causing disturbance to social and communal harmony.
“In such situation, in my opinion, this is the right time to remind ourselves the fundamental duties of the citizen. Quite often, the citizens show serious concern about fundamental rights but then forget the fundamental duties,” the bench said.
Justice Varale said that in the backdrop of the unforeseen situation, it would be useful for our purposes to refer to one of the important fundamental duty provided under Article 51-A of the Constitution of India, which reads, “To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.”
Moreover, the court in its April 8 order suggested that district administrations can consider to establish link between farmers who can provide vegetables and fruits on daily basis to consumers. The court suggested that the administration can create several centres across the districts to avoid large gatherings to cater the need of vegetables, medicines and other essential goods and wide publicity can be given to distribute them to the needy people and consumers.
Last week, the High Court directed the Aurangabad administration to take help of voluntary organisations and cater to the food and medical requirements of migrant workers walking back to their homes in Madhya Pradesh being housed at a Zilla parishad school in Aurangabad.
Advocate Amol Joshi, appointed by the Court to assist it on behalf of migrant workers said that the anxiety and fear of migrants should be understood by the police and other authorities and they should be dealt with humane manner as prescribed by the Supreme Court.
Government Pleader D R Kale submitted that migrant workers are being provided with facilities through three-level committee monitoring the situation on district, corporation and state level. The food and shelter are being provided by the authorities and help is sought from NGOs and CSR funds, Kale said.
The state also said that it is concerned about the safety of health officials and it has, on April 1, accorded sanction to the purchase of 3000 personal protection kits for health workers and 50,000 hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) 400 mg tablets.
The bench, in an earlier hearing, had said that reputed citizens and independent organisations need to be roped in for creating awareness among people and prevent obstruction to health workers. On Wednesday, authorities submitted that appeals made by well-known persons and organisations have made positive change in situation and health workers are not facing opposition from residents.
Last week, Justice Varale took cognizance of the message circulated on social media referring to alleged non-action by health authorities and claimed that COVID-19 treatment was provided to foreign nationals in private clinic. However, Aurangabad Police denied the report and said no element of truth was found in the message
The court posted further hearing to April 15.
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