The Uttarakhand High Court on Friday sought a reply from the state government, central government and state cabinet minister Satpal Maharaj on a PIL filed with an appeal to issue directions to the state government for taking legal action against the minister for allegedly violating the quarantine rules and putting life of others at risk.
Petitioner’s counsel Gopal Verma said, “Prayer made in the PIL is for directives to the state government for initiating legal action against minister Satpal Maharaj for violating quarantine rules, just like the government takes legal action against common man for violating the quarantine rules and putting others life at risk.”
As per a copy of the order, the allegations in the Writ Petition state that despite a notice having been affixed on his house on May 20, due to reasons of security the residents of the subject house should be home-quarantined for 14 days from May 20 to June 3, the fourth respondent had participated in the Cabinet Meetings held both on May 21 and May 29 (wherein the Chief Minister, other Cabinet Ministers, and several Secretaries of various Departments were present), without informing and disclosing that his wife had tested Covid-19 positive.
Gopal Verma said that “fourth respondent” in the petition is cabinet minister Satpal Maharaj.
Chief Standing Counsel Paresh Tripathi told the Indian Express that the court has sought a reply from the state government, central government and minister Satpal Maharaj, in the matter.
The order from the bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, reads, “While the learned Chief Standing Counsel states that it is possible that the fourth respondent may not have resided in that house during the lockdown period, these facts can only be ascertained on the fourth respondent being put on notice, and his filing a counter affidavit presenting his version of these incidents.”
In reference to the FIRs placed on record for offences under Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgate by public servant) and 307 (Attempt to murder) IPC, the court said, “While we see no reason, as at present, to express any opinion regarding the application of Section 307 IPC, we are satisfied, prima facie, that, if the allegations in the Writ Petition are true, then the ingredients of Section 188 IPC may well be attracted.”
Regarding the order affixed outside the residence of the minister on May 20, the court said, “The said order required those residing in the house to be self-quarantined for 14 days from 20.05.2020 till 03.06.2020. In effect, residents of the said house were directed to abstain from leaving their house for this period of 14 days. If, as is contended on behalf of the petitioner, the fourth respondent was residing in the very same house during the period when he participated in the Cabinet Meetings, he may then, prima facie, be liable to be proceeded against for the offence under Section 188 IPC 4 as his failure to maintain home-quarantine, and his act of participating in Cabinet Meetings, has resulted in the risk of his infecting others.”
The court order read, “As to why different standards are adopted for home quarantine violations; and when action is initiated against the common-man, why no action is taken against those holding constitutional offices indulging in such violations, needs to be ascertained.”
The court directed to list the matter to be heard after three weeks.
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