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Not in favour of Commission to probe Centre's management of COVID pandemic: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday noted that it is not in favour of appointing an independent commission for an inquiry into the Central government's alleged gross mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ANI | New Delhi | Updated: 14-08-2020 13:54 IST | Created: 14-08-2020 13:45 IST
Not in favour of Commission to probe Centre's management of COVID pandemic: SC
Supreme Court of India. Image Credit: ANI

The Supreme Court on Friday noted that it is not in favor of appointing an independent commission for an inquiry into the Central government's alleged gross mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said that it is not in favor of appointing a commission for inquiry into the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, but did not pass any order and adjourned the matter.

The bench said that there is a worldwide view that the judiciary should not interfere with the executive decisions in an emergency situation like COVID-19 pandemic. Former bureaucrats, namely KP Fabian, MG Devasahayam, Meena Gupta, Somasundar Burra, Amit Bhaduri, and Madhu Bhaduri sought the appointment of a Commission under Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act.

The petitioners submitted that the response of the government to the pandemic and the deleterious impact of the same on the lives and livelihoods of the citizens is a definite matter of public importance and warrants the appointment of a Commission under the said Act. "The importance of the inquiry resides in the fact that the government has stalled an inquiry by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into the government's response to the pandemic," the plea said.

"The inquiry is essential as multiple lapses have been committed on behalf of the government 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," it added. The plea said that the government failed to adhere to its statutory obligations under the Disaster Management Act, including drawing up a National Plan or issuing guidelines for providing minimum standards of relief to vulnerable sections of society.

The government has also failed to consult the National Task Force appointed by it on March 18, which consisted of experts in the fields of epidemiology and public health, prior to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown and its subsequent extensions, it said. The plea said that the government also did not make arrangements for the foreseeable migration of migrant workers back to their respective hometowns and districts and claimed that it led to the spread of the virus to initially unaffected districts.

It also said that the government exhibited lethargy and delay in ensuring adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the safety of healthcare workers.



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