Courts playing corona warrior?

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

Author- Sakshi Kashyap, Faculty of Law, Delhi University.

In India, Article 32 of Indian Constitution & Article 226 of Indian Constitution lay down the provisions for filing Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India in Supreme Court and High Courts respectively, whereas in multiple cases different High Courts and the Supreme Court have risen to the occasion by taking cognizance of a legal issue on their own to provide justice promptly. Lately, Courts has been hearing numerous pleas during this time of pandemic on the matters relating to Migrant issues, cost of test and treatment of COVID positive Patients etc.

At times, Various courts has initiated judicial review based on media reports received by aggrieved party, taking a Suo Moto cognizance of the issue.In latest, we can see numerous people claiming that they were denied admission in hospitals and were not given medical facilities, citing lack of beds, and mishandling of dead bodies of the deceased patients has taken the social media in storm. After this, Delhi HC has taken Suo moto cognizance of a video circulated on social media where a common man named Dharmendra Bharadwaj is claiming that visited multiple hospitals and tried calling numerous helplines but could not avail any service.

What is Suo moto?

It is an action taken by courts on its own accord.

Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar observed,

“In our view, the aforesaid video recording raises serious issues of public concern in the present-day context. A person who, or whose family or friend is found Covid-19 positive, should be able to call the helplines to not only report such occurrence but to also seek guidance and assistance with regard to the hospitals to which such patient may be taken – if hospitalisation is necessary keeping in view of the condition of the patient.. If the experience of Mr. Dharmendra Bhardwaj is anything to go by, it appears, that this aspect has not been adequately addressed by the respondents. We, accordingly, take Suo moto notice of the said video recording, and direct registration of a PIL on the Courts own Motion.” Delhi High Court [1]

As per the judgement by the honourable court following points were made clear to GNCTD and CG,

1. Record shall be maintained of the calls that helplines are receiving.

2. Provide ambulance facility to the serious patients.

3. Proper Guidance and information should be provided to the caller.

In 2011, a bench headed by Justice P. Sathasivam passed an order on appeal filed by Himachal Pradesh Govt. challenging the High Court’s order observed that, “The Government is free to frame guidelines and court cannot interfere in it. Court cannot substitute Government’s view on policy matters and must sit as an appellate body on Government decision,”

Whereas, SC is in view that Courts do have right to decide the legality of decisions made by the government.

In the above judgements passed by the High Court of Delhi, Court can be seen taking a bold move, as it questions the capability of the ruling government, and a guiding them for better governance.



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