The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday (29th September) observed that the executive authorities who are responsible for the execution of the COVID Guidelines (to contain the spread of COVID) are unable to discharge their duties.
The Bench of Justices Sheel Nagu and Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava further thought it appropriate to hear in person the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of five districts namely Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Datia and Shivpuri through video conferencing on Wednesday (i.e. 30.09.2020) at 9:30 am.
It may be noted that Pursuant to orders passed by the Court earlier on 18.09.2020 and 25.09.2020, learned Amicus Curiae, Shri Raju Sharma, Shri V.D. Sharma and Shri Sanjay Dwivedi filed two reports which revealed various instances of large congregation of persons much more than the limit prescribed under the precautionary guidelines issued by the Central Government, the State Government and concerned District Magistrate for minimising the spread of Covid-19.
After having heard learned counsel for the rival parties and learned Amicus Curiae, the Court wanted to know as to whether the failure on the part of the executive authorities to ensure strict implementation of the said precautionary guidelines is intentional or for reasons beyond the control of the executive authorities.
For the aforesaid purpose, the Court thought it appropriate to hear in person the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of five districts namely Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Datia and Shivpuri through video conferencing.
The Court clarified that its intention is to ascertain the practical difficulties being faced by these executive authorities in their concerned district where number of occasions have come to light, as revealed by the reports of Amicus Curiae and also by the petitioner, which seems to be relatable to the forthcoming bi-elections to the vacant seat in the M.P. Legislative Assembly.
It may be noted that on 18th September, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had observed that "law, whether statutory or in the shape of the executive instructions deserves respect & obedience, as much from a common man as from a leader, a political functionary and even the head of State."
The Division Bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava, while hearing a plea seeking directions for respondents authorities to take action to restrain the function organized by the political parties in the State, had also cited the maxim "Be you ever so high, the Law is above you".
As an interim measure, in the interest of the public at large, rather in the interest of the Nation, the Court directed that till next date of hearing, Political Functionaries and the Functionaries of the State were directed to strictly abide by the "Covid-19 protocol" prescribed by the Central Govt., State Govt. and the District Magistrate of the concerned District from time to time for regulating the congregation of any nature.
Looking to the important nature of cause raised in the Public Interest Litigation, Advocate Sanjay Dwivedi, Advocate Raju Sharma, and Advocate V.D.Sharma were appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist this court for rendering justice.
However, on 25th September the Bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava had observed that the COVID pandemic is on the rise in the district of Gwalior and that the number of deaths is also on the rise.
The Court had further observed,
"In such a situation if the Executive Authorities do not prevent the congregation of a large number of people in violation of restrictions laid down by the Central Government, State Government and the District Magistrate then this Court may have to step in to do something which the Executive Authorities of the State failed to do." (emphasis supplied)
Case Title: Ashish Pratap Singh vs. State of M.P. & Ors.
Case No.: WP-13544-2020
Quorum: Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava
Appearance: Advocate Veer Singh Sisodia (for the Petitioner); Additional Advocate General Ankur Modi (for the Respondent/State); Advocate Sanjay Dwivedi, Advocate Raju Sharma, and Advocate V.D.Sharma (as amicus curiae).
Click Here To Download Order