Fundamental duties as important as rights during the Covid-19 pandemic : Bombay HC

Updated on Apr 11, 2020 10:13 AM IST

The court had initiated suo-moto public interest litigation (PIL) after taking cognizance of news reports about the plight of some labourers, who were on their way to their hometowns in Madhya Pradesh but were stopped and kept in a zilla parishad school, where they were not being provided proper facilities.

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court made the observations while hearing reports of various authorities on facilities being provided to the needy during the lockdown period.(File photo)
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court made the observations while hearing reports of various authorities on facilities being provided to the needy during the lockdown period.(File photo)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByK A Y Dodhiya

Holding that it is the constitutional right of migrants, labourers and citizens to get their basic needs fulfilled, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) stated that it was also their duty to maintain peace, harmony and the spirit of brotherhood, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bench made the observations while hearing reports of various authorities on facilities being provided to the needy during the lockdown period. The court had initiated suo-moto public interest litigation (PIL) after taking cognizance of news reports about the plight of some labourers, who were on their way to their hometowns in Madhya Pradesh but were stopped and kept in a zilla parishad school, where they were not being provided proper facilities.

The bench of justice Prasanna Varale on April 3 had directed the district authorities, including the collector and Aurangabad municipal corporation, to respond to news reports highlighting the plight of around 50-60 migrant workers and labourers who were kept in a zilla parishad school. The court had also dealt with instances of health workers being obstructed from checking residents of temporary camps for the coronavirus infection and a social media message which stated that some coronavirus-infected foreign nationals were being treated in a private hospital and exposing the entire city of Aurangabad to the infection.

On Thursday, the collector and municipal authorities informed the court that the total 43 labourers, who had been initially kept at the school, were later shifted to a polytechnic institution where they were being provided with proper food, milk for small children, sanitization, entertainment facilities, spiritual and motivational discourses etc. The authorities also submitted that they had roped in Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly to address the labourers and ensure that they cooperate with the health workers.

Advocate Amol Joshi who was appointed as amicus curiae and represented the labourers confirmed the same.

After hearing the submissions, the court appreciated the efforts of the Aurangabad administration as well as the work being done by NGO’s, voluntary organisations and radio jockeys to create awareness about the Covid 19 pandemic. “In my opinion, this is right time to remind ourselves the fundamental duties of the citizen. Often, citizens show serious concern about fundamental rights but they forget about the duties,” stated the bench.

The court further observed, “While this court expects effective measures from the respondent state authorities and corporation, it also expects that citizens would remind themselves fundamental duties and would discharge them to deal with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.”

The PIL has been posted for further consideration on April 15.

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