In the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam W.P. (C) No. 9400 OF 2020 (Suo Moto) Appellants Court on its own motion Respondents Union of India Date of Judgement 25th March 2020 Bench Hon'ble CJ Mr S. Manikumar; Justice Mr. C K Abdul Rahim; Justice Mr. C T Ravikumar
Facts of the case
On 24th March 2020, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi ji announced a complete lockdown throughout the country and consequently Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India issued a notice dated 24th March 2020 enclosing the guidelines on the measures to be taken by Ministries/Departments of the Government of India, State/Union Territory Governments for containment of COVID 19 epidemic in the country. The total lockdown imposed in the country resulted in immobilization of public at large and total stoppage of public transport, litigation found it difficult to vindicate their grievances. So, the court deems it proper to provide directions in the instant suo motu writ petition.
What are the measures taken up by the High Court during the National lockdown of 21 days to control the spread of Covid-19?
- The High court as well as the District Courts in the District Judiciary and Tribunals have granted interim order for limited period and litigants, their respective counsels will not be in a position to approach the courts/tribunals for filling an application for extension during lockdown of 21days.
- Necessary orders have to be issued to enable litigants not to suffer from their inability to approach the court. Therefore, on exercise of Article 226 and 227 all interim orders passed by courts and tribunals are extended by court for one month.
- Any order filed for extending/vacating an interim order and pending for orders in the court will be extended for one month
- In all recovery matters such as electricity, water, Akhbar and other matters the payment will be deferred upto 30.04.2020 and thereafter no recovery proceeding already initiated would not proceed till 30.04.2020 as Counsel of Ministers, Government of Kerala have decided.
- There should be a total shut down of Courts during the lockdown period.
- Recovery proceeding by the Government of India and public sector undertakings owned or controlled by the Government of India, which was taken an appeal by Union of India in Special Leave Petition, where the Supreme Court also granted the permission to file special leave petitions.
- In criminal matters concerned High court/Sessions Courts would have grant to anticipatory bail for limited period which may expire during the lockdown period and as High court/Sessions courts are not in function orders to be issued by High court in exercise of powers conferred under Article 226 and 227 under inherent powers of High court u/s 482 CrPC
- Anticipatory bail which may expire during lockdown have to be extended for one month
- As per prisoners concern the decision was left to High power Committee by Supreme Court to determine the category of prisoners to be released based on their nature of offense and the High court of Kerala has taken adequate decisions like physical presence of prisoners was stopped, health measure and social distancing should be maintained during transfer of them etc.
- All proceeding to be postponed as staff and law officers will face difficulty to attend office.
- The right of personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 should not at any rate be infringed by arresting an accused except the matter where arrest is inevitable.
- In the event of arrest, overcrowding in prison is a bothering issue. Magistrates/Judges before whom accused was produced shall consider whether judicial /police custody is required or not depending upon the seriousness of the offence.
- State Government, LSG Institutions, Government of India and public sector undertakings owned and controlled by state/central Government shall not take any coercive action as there is no opportunity to the person to approach the court.
Copy of above mentioned decision to be sent to all District Courts and concerned authority through e mail and to be published in the website of High Court of Kerala.
“The views of the authors are personal“