The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday (18th September) observed that "law, whether statutory or in the shape of 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, also cited the maxim "Be you ever so high, the Law is above you".
The plea before the Court
The plea before the court stated that looking to the present situation of COVID-19 Pandemic, as an interim measure, ongoing political functions/gatherings be directed to be immediately stopped in the light of various directions/circulars issued by the Central Government as well as State Government in this regard.
It was further submitted that the State Authorities are not discharging their duties properly due to unexplained pressure over them.
The present Coronavirus is highly infectious, therefore, meanwhile on-going political functions/gatherings be immediately stopped.
In the petition, allegations were made against the political functionaries, who are supposed to be role model for persons they represent. It is urged that a leader ought to lead by example.
The Court acknowledged the fact that COVID-19 Pandemic situation is on the rise. Various instructions & precautionary guidelines have been issued from time to time by the Central Government/State Government to contain the aftermath.
The Court also observed that though the counsel for the petitioner has filed various photographs showing gatherings of a lot of people at a place, but at this stage the said photographs cannot be connected to any incident as alleged without sufficient evidence.
However, in this context, the Court said,
"If the photographs filed are taken to be of recent congregations as alleged, then the political functionaries/ administrative authorities appear to be acting in irresponsible manner."
Therefore, as an interim measure, in the interest of the public at large, rather in the the interest of the Nation, the Court directed that till next date of hearing Political Functionaries and the Functionaries of the State shall 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 this 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.
Further, the Court said that it is expected from the Amicus Curiae so appointed to immediately inform this court through Principal Registrar of the Bench about any breach of this order by anyone so that the matter can be taken up at any earlier date.
The Principal Registrar of the court was directed to list this matter immediately on receiving the intimation for preponement from any of the Amicus Curiae after taking due approval from the Principal Seat at Jabalpur.
Meanwhile, the Registry was directed to supply a soft copy of the entire pleadings and documents filed by the petitioner and also respondents, to each of the Amicus Curiae, for which the matter be placed before the Principal Registrar for doing the needful.
The matter has been posted for further hearing on 28th September 2020.
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 Sisodiya (for the Petitioner); Additional Advocate General Ankur Mody (for the Respondent/State)
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