6 ex-bureaucrats move SC seeking judicial probe into Modi Govt’s ‘gross mismanagement’ of COVID-19, lockdown

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published Published on Jul 22, 2020   modified Modified on Jul 23, 2020

-National Herald

The plea says the Centre failed to “undertake timely and effective measures for containing transmission of disease within India” despite being notified about the same by WHO in January, 2020.

Six retired bureaucrats have moved the Supreme Court seeking an independent inquiry by a Commission appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, into the Central Government's "gross mismanagement" of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.

"It is submitted that the response of the Respondent to the pandemic and the deleterious impact of the same on the lives and livelihoods of citizens of the country is a definite matter of public importance and warrants appointment of a Commission under Section 3 of the said Act," the plea states.

Further, it is submitted that the importance of the inquiry resides in the fact that the Respondent has stalled an inquiry by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into the Respondent's response to the pandemic.

Filed by retired bureaucrats KP Fabian, MG Devasahayam, Meena Gupta, Somasundar Burra, Amit Bhaduri, and Madhu Bhaduri, the plea conveys that the Petitioners have "come together to file the present petition owing to the anxiety and concern over the Respondent's mismanagement and misgovernance of the COVID-19 pandemic and the deleterious impact it has had on the fundamental rights of Indian citizens".

The plea goes on to state that the inquiry is essential as multiple lapses have been committed on behalf of the Respondent such as their failure to "undertake timely and effective measures for containing the transmission of the disease within India" despite being notified about the same by WHO in January, 2020, and their failure to adhere to its "statutory obligations under the Disaster Management Act, 2005", including drawing up a National Plan under Section 11 or issuing guidelines for providing minimum standards of relief to vulnerable sections of society under Section 12.

It is further submitted that the Respondent has also failed to consult the National Task Force appointed by it on 18th March, which consisted of experts in the fields of epidemiology and public health, prior to imposition of the nationwide and its subsequent extensions.

"The Respondent ignored the advice of these experts and went ahead with imposing a lockdown that has spawned a humanitarian and economic crisis of Biblical proportions while at the same time failing to contain the spread of the disease".

The plea also highlights the failure of the Respondent to "make timely and targeted provisions for the inevitable impact of the lockdown viz. loss of jobs, loss of incomes, destruction of livelihoods, starvation, destitution and the exodus of migrant workers and daily-wage earners from cities to their respective hometowns/villages".

With respect to the safety of healthcare workers, the plea avers that the Respondent has exhibited lethargy and delay in ensuring adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).

The plea alleges that the lapses on behalf of the Respondent has led to a "severe infraction of the fundamental rights of people". Firstly, they failed to nip the problem in the bud as they did not conduct effective screening and surveillance of international passengers coming into India as well as carrying out a public awareness campaign in January itself.

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National Herald, 22 July, 2020, https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/6-ex-bureaucrats-move-sc-seeking-judicial-probe-into-modi-govts-gross-mismanagement-of-covid-19-lockdown?fbclid=IwAR2xRHkiSEgT5S9ZBZA00bzpBjTc2XwHdn3AiverPzJdmAEgiBL5OyzhSHc


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