The Punjab and Haryana High Court has elucidated that a person kept in quarantine by the authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be said to be in "illegal confinement/ detention".
The bench of Justice Lalit Batra thus dismissed a Habeas Corpus petition filed for release of two residents of Assam and Bihar respectively, who had been quarantined by the authorities in Haryana, as "not maintainable".
"quarantining them [Petitioners] for the time being cannot be termed to be illegal confinement/detention at any stretch of imagination and as such instant petition is not maintainable."
The Petitioners were apprehended by the Haryana Police from a Mosque in Palwal District along with several Bangladeshi Nationals belonging to Tablighi Jammat.
Accordingly, they were booked by the Haryana Police under relevant provisions of the IPC, the Foreigners Act, the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act.
The Petitioners had moved the High Court in a Habeas Corpus petition stating that since they had been granted bail in the above case, their confinement in Quarantine Centre amounts to illegal custody/detention.
The primary argument raised by the Petitioners was that they were found to be Covid negative and as such they were entitled to be released forthwith.
However, on being informed by the State Counsel that the Petitioners had been quarantined after obtaining opinion of Medical Authorities, the court declined to interfere in the matter and held as follows,
"after having sought report from Medical Authorities and especially the fact that petitioners are residents of States of Assam and Bihar, the fact that due to impact of Covid-19, entire country is under lockdown and there is no transport facility and further the fact that Quarantine Centre "Mewat Model School, Hathin" is one of the hotspots (Red Zone), therefore, in view of safety and health aspects of petitioners and to avoid spread of Covid-19 impact, lodging of petitioners for the time being in Quarantine Centre cannot be said to be illegal confinement/ detention."
The bench went on to state that lodging of people in quarantine homes for their own safety could not, by any stretch of imagination, be said to be illegal.
"The main object of above said venture at the instance of Government of India as well as State Governments is to protect the life of each and every persons living in this Country from the impact of Covid-19," it remarked.
The bench added,
"Basic steps initiated by the Government of India and State Governments to curb the impact of Covid-19 are meant for service to the humanity and as such petitioners though released on bail in case FIR No.95 dated 02.04.2020, as detailed above, being residents of outer States (Assam and Bihar) have been rightly kept in Quarantine Centre "Mewat Model School, Hathin" during nationwide lockdown with facilities of boarding, lodging and medical and that too at the expense of State Exchequer. As a sequel to above, instant petition though given the nomenclature of Habeas Corpus, is not maintainable and is dismissed as such."
Case Title: Mustak Hussain & Anr. v. State of Haryana & Ors.
Case No.: CRWP No. 3023/2020
Quorum: Justice Lalit Batra
Appearance: Advocate Rajesh Lamba (for Petitioner); Additional Advocate General Deepak Sabherwal (for State)
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