The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday (09th October) directed the law enforcement agencies of the state to ensure that the Covid-19 protocol is followed to the hilt and no one howsoever big, is allowed to go scot-free without being subjected to the rigours of the penal provision on the occasion of breach of Covid-19 protocol.
The Bench of Justices Sheel Nagu and Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava also observed,
"The cure to Covid-19 has not yet been invented and with no possibility of the said cure becoming available to the common man in the near future, it is of utmost importance that the precautions and restrictions laid down in Covid-19 protocol are strictly followed."
The Court specifically noted,
"Congregation of persons have the potentiality of giving rise to the number of infected people by Covid-19. The world is opening up as no one can stay indoors for very long, but compliance of Covid-19 protocol becomes all the more necessary when one starts moving outdoors more often."
The background of the Case
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, was hearing a plea seeking directions for respondents authorities to take action to restrain the function organized by the political parties in the State.
Further, the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Gwalior Bench) on Saturday (03rd October), in the public interest, passed some interim orders to prevent the Political Congregation in the State (specifically in the 9 districts falling within the territorial jurisdiction of the Bench).
Court proceedings on 09th October
The Petitioner in the matter filed IA 5562/20 for impleading Union of India and Election Commission of India as a party, IA 5563/20, for taking certain documents on record, IA 6066/20 seeking interim relief and IA 6084/20 for direction to take penal action against political leaders and members of political parties and executive authorities who have allegedly failed to ensure the following of Covid-19 protocol.
After due consideration IA 5562/20 and 5563/20 were allowed by the High Court.
The Petitioner also pointed out in the said IA with the aid of certain photographs that on 4th, 5th and 6th of October, 2020, congregations of much more than 100 persons took place in Gwalior and Datia without following Covid-19 protocol where several political and State functionaries were present witnessing blatant violation of Covid-19 protocol and the order passed by this Court on 03.10.2020 in the present petition.
Observations of the Court
The Court observed that the on-going process of bye-election to various legislative assembly constituencies in and around the district of Gwalior is the primary cause of congregations and widespread breach of COVID-19 protocol (the restrictions and precautions laid down and published by the Central Government, State Government and District Magistrates from time to time).
It was also informed to the Court, that in the recent decision taken on 05.10.2020 by the Central Government and on 08.10.2020 by the State Government the capping of a maximum of 100 persons in a congregation in the non-containment zone has now been relaxed prescribing no maximum limit.
In view of the submissions, the Court issued abovementioned direction for the authorities that no one howsoever big should be allowed to go scot-free without being subjected to the rigours of the penal provision on the occasion of breach of Covid-19 protocol.
Lastly, the Additional Advocate General Shri Mody was directed to answer the following questions:-
(i) Whether any FIR was lodged against any of the political and State functionaries on whose behalf and behest and in whose presence the aforesaid congregations took place, and if not then why?
(ii) Whether the direction contained in operative Para (E) of the order dated 03.10.2020 of this Court passed in the present petition was complied with or not?
The matter has been posted for further hearing on Monday i.e. 12th October, 2020
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