In light of the "Janta Curfew" to be observed this Sunday as a measure to combat COVID-19 pandemic, the Madras High Court has observed that steps must be taken for protection of the poor and shelter-less, who will be worst hit by these days of "crisis".
Notably, the Chief Justice of the High Court, Justice SM Subramaniam has also decided to contribute his one month's salary of Rs. 2.25 lakh, for the welfare of unorganized labour force, who have lost their earnings due to the social-distancing practice, the Hindu reported. A cheque for the same will be handed over to the State Chief Secretary, on Saturday, March 21.
While hearing a habeas corpus petition, the attention of a bench comprising of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice R. Hemalatha was drawn towards the difficulties being faced by the underprivileged section of the country, in the present time of pandemic.
Last evening, the Prime Minister had announced a nationwide Janta curfew to be carried out from 7 am to 9 pm on March 22, Sunday.
In this backdrop, Advocate AP Suryaprakasam, appearing for the Petitioner pointed out before the court that people who are living on the platforms, without any shelter are to be protected and they should be provided with food.
Concurring with the submission, the bench observed,
"As rightly pointed out by Mr.A.P.Suryaprakasam, in these days of crisis, the interest of daily coolies and poor workers should be taken care of by this Court, especially during "Janata Curfew", as this Court is a constitutional Court."
In exercise of its Constitutional duty thus, the court ordered that state government to "provide food for above mentioned poor people during "Janata Curfew" during which time hotels and shops would not be opened."
The court also ordered that if necessary, the Government should utilize the Community Halls, Marriage Halls and Schools for this purpose on 22.03.2020 ("Janata Curfew").
On being informed that night shelters are already being run the bench observed that enough publicity of the same was required so that the facility actually reaches the downtrodden.
"Though it is submitted that the people can use the night shelters, the availability of those night shelters are not made known to the people. Therefore, the Government and the Corporation are directed to inform through Media about the availability of night shelters to the people who are suffering without any shelters," the bench said.
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