A petition has been filed before the Gujarat High Court challenging the Order of the Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner which directs all shops/parlours to be closed, excepting those selling milk and medicine, for a period of 9 days.
On 6th May, a Circular had been passed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner, ordering to shut down all shops, including the shops and vendors of vegetables and groceries in the entire city of Ahmedabad; only milk and medicine were to be exempted. The Circular was to be implemented from 7th May to 15th May, and the Circular was passed around 5pm in the evening on 6th May.
The petition, filed by Advocate Neel Lakhani on behalf of Advocate and Social Activist Harshit Indravadan Shah, asserts that the lack of prior intimation and the suddenness of the Circular led to multiple people gathering on the streets and crowding vegetable shops, grocery stores etc. as the Central Govt.'s order directs all shops to close down at 7pm.
"As a result of such sudden rush of thousands of people to market, the norms of social distancing and lockdown were completely broken and large number of crowd and groups gathered at different places in the entire city."
The plea further avers that the careless actions on the part of the Respondent have caused a great deal of mental and physical harassment to the people. Additionally, people have been left with insufficient amount of stock of food items at home and will be unable to last a week without any remedy or other sources.
"That, most people residing in Ahmedabad are middle class people and thus they would not have enough resources or access to storage of food items that could last for a week and they had to come down on streets to purchase the necessary items".
The petition refers to a similar situation having taken place when the lockdown had been announced by the Prime Minister on 24th March at 8pm and had therefore not provided sufficient time to migrants/labourers to travel to their hometows, thereby leading to a mass gathering.
It has also been contended that despite the declarations of high officials that that there are sufficient beds available for treatment of Coronavirus patients, it has come to the knowledge of the Petitioner that there are many patients who have been declined entry into the grounds of hospitals and have been asked to remain quarantined at home, despite being tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, the actions of the Respondent creates a bigger risk for the lives of the people.
The Questions of Law that have been emphasized in the petition are as follows:
I. Whether the state machinery has failed to perform its duty properly?
II. Whether the state machinery has failed to protect and provide a safe and secure life to its people?
III. Whether the actions of state machinery increased threat to life of its people?
IV. Whether such a hasty order without granting sufficient time and resources to the people amounts to undue harassment?
In light of the above, the petition concludes with a prayer seeking for directions to the Respondent to provide either sufficient time alternate remedies before passing of such an Order or for the quashing the Order dated 6th May.
It is also prayed that the Respondent shall solely be held reliable for the resultant spread of Coronavirus due to the gathering of large crowds as a result of the 6th May Order. Additionally, the Respondent authorities are also to be directed to create sufficient medical facilities as well as testing facilities for people suffering from the virus, and to restrain the police personnel in using physical violence upon innocent people.
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