Home Legal NewsRecent Development COVID-19 Lockdown – Karnataka HC directions on Stranded Migrant Workers, Animal Welfare, Religious Gatherings, Rural Distress.

COVID-19 Lockdown – Karnataka HC directions on Stranded Migrant Workers, Animal Welfare, Religious Gatherings, Rural Distress.

by Tushar Kohli
Karnataka HC

A Division Bench in Karnataka High Court comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Shreenivas Oka and Justice BV Nagarthna issued a set of fresh directions in furtherance of the directions issued last week with regards to multiple issues surrounding the Coronavirus Lockdown.

Following Directions were issued –

Stranded Migrant workers

A chart containing district wise details of active relief camps, number of people housed in them, number of food camps and number of people being provided with the food was tendered by the Additional Advocate General Dhyan Chinnappa.

In this regard the Hon’ble Court noted that migrant workers divided into three categories are being dealt with right now. The first category includes people who have left their respective places of employment and are trying to reach their native places situated in the state or outside it, second category includes migrants who are staying in rented accommodation, and workers who have been provided shelter by their respective employers constitute the third category.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) apprised the court of the 10,718 calls that it received from the migrant workers with complaints of not having received any ration during the lockdown. The Court has asked for a comprehensive list from PUCL for verification on the State’s part and State is to respond to this issue by April 9.

With regards to the establishment of shelter camps for migrants across the state, the Court has directed the District Legal Services Authority to provide a district-wise list of such camps.

Nizamuddin Issue

In response to two applications filed by Girish Bharadwaj and Geeta Mishra  raising concerns over the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin, from where the attendees are said to have entered Karnataka, the following position was clarified by the Court-

“There cannot be any dispute that it is the duty of the State to collect the data of persons who attended the religious ceremony/function at Nizamuddin in Delhi and who may have entered the State of Karnataka. The State Government will make all endeavour to get the data from the concerned authorities of the Central Government and Delhi Government and will take immediate steps to locate those persons in the State of Karnataka, to quarantine them and to take all further steps. The State Government shall place necessary data in this behalf on record on or before 7th April, 2020.”

The petition will be taken up on April 7.

Along with the aforementioned application, another petition filed by Ondede and Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy for the Medication and monetary assistance to transgenders will be taken up on April 7.

Animal Welfare

As per the petition filed by PUCL, the plight of stray/pet animals was raised during this lockdown. Issues included feeding the stray animals and the subsequent measures to allay their deteriorating condition. Another issue focuses on keeping the pet shops open and to ensure the animals in such shops are duly fed since they are suffering due to non-availability of proper food.

In the light of such issues, the Court noted that directions are to be issued addressed to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and District Magistrates to take immediate measures to ensure that pets and animals are taken care of.

The Court further directed the state to consider the possibility of keeping the pet shops open so that the pet animals have uninterrupted supply of food and medicine.

The involvement of NGOs to feed stray animals was also emphasized by the Hon’ble Court.

Religious Gatherings

In this regard, The Court has asked the state to comply with the directions issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) dated March 24 imposing complete ban on all religious congregations.

Rural Distress

An application seeking relief with regards to rural distress was had been field by PUCL. The Court making an important remark noted that on a reading of the exceptions added in the MHA order dated March 24, it is apparent that the object of the Central Government is to let agricultural and farming operations to run smoothly.

The court opined,

“If the order dated 27th March, 2020 passed by the Central Government is to be effectively implemented, the State will have to ensure the passage of farmers and farm labourers/staff members to the field, if necessary, by providing passes. Secondly, the transport of agricultural/horticultural produce from the respective fields/farms to the markets for its sale will have to be permitted. It is pointed out in the application that in the if there is any difficulty about transportation of agricultural/horticultural produce, the State must make all possible arrangements for purchasing the produce from the doorsteps of the farmer.”

On the point of farmers facing extreme hardship due to the lockdown, the Court took into account the fact that due the farmers’ inability to sell produce, they are getting forced to dump it and suffer huge losses. The Court noted,

“We, therefore, expect the State Government to act immediately and help the community of farmers. We may add here that the smooth functioning of farming operations and smooth transport and sale of agricultural/horticultural produce will not only help the farmers, but it will also help the State in ensuring continuous supply of agricultural/horticultural produce to the citizens.”

Further, with regards to the regular availability of fertilizers, pesticides, seeds etc. and other agricultural implements, the Court directed the State to furnish a response by April 9.

Another plea by Advocate TN Raghupathy concerning the uninterrupted supply of medicines and ventilators will be taken up on April 9, the Court said.

PUCL Advocates – Clifton D’RozarioMaitreyi KrishnanLekha Adavi, Avani Chokshi, Arjun Rao and Maitreyi Bhat.

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