The Karnataka High Court on Monday, directed state government to come out with a comprehensive plan by April 3, for supply of food grains/food to the needy people, poor people, daily wage workers, people residing on the streets, railway platforms, bus stands etc, during the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown period, which was announced on March 24, to avoid spread of Coronavirus.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna heard petitions through video conferencing, filed by Sandhya U Prabhu and others highlighting the lack of food security to the daily wage earners, migrants and homeless.
The court said "We are facing a national disaster and the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, have been invoked.The State Government will take a decision on applying the directions contained in paragraph 128.4 of the decision of the Apex Court in the case of SWARAJ ABHIYAN, Vs Union Of India and Others, to the persons affected by the lockdown. If the state government follows the direction of the Apex Court, that will take care of the need of food of those citizens who do not have Ration Cards, issued either by the State of Karnataka or any other State."
The bench also directed the government which plans to supply food in urban areas to the needy, through Indira Canteens, to look into the issue of mass gathering of the people, which may result in community spreading of the disease.
Terming the issue raised for providing safety equipment to pourakarmikas (sweepers), as 'important'. The court directed Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), and state government to ensure that the safety equipment is provided to every single pourakarmika. The court suggested taking special measures after apprehension were raised that they will be affected by infection, while collecting waste/garbage, from the houses where persons have been subjected to home quarantine.
The State Government was told to ensure that appropriate transport facilities are made available to them (pourakarmikas). This is especially in the light of the fact that in the present day circumstance, pourakarmikas are playing a vital role.
The court also suggested the state consider providing a portal on its website with a request to all NGOs to upload information about the nature of work they are doing and the geographical area of their work. If the said information is centrally available on the portal, the State Government can more effectively take the help of NGOs and in fact, allocate different
categories of services in different areas to NGOs. "We hope and trust that the Government considers this suggestion so that the services of NGOs can be effectively used," the bench said.
To allegations made about police using force against lock down violators. The bench was informed about a circular issued by the Bengaluru Police Commissioner, which asked policemen to not use lathis while enforcing the lockdown. The bench said "Director General and Inspector General of Police of the State, issue guidelines/instructions to the police personnel all over the State. If such guidelines are issued which will apply across the State, we are sure that there may not be an occasion to make allegations regarding police excesses and police indulging in lath charge."