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HC seeks report from Centre, Gujarat after PIL questions constitutional validity of lockdown

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The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday sought a report from the Centre and the state governments after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) questioning the constitutional validity of the lockdown imposed by the authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19 came up for hearing.

Entertaining the PIL filed by petitioner Vishwas Bhamburkar through his counsel KR Koshti, the division bench of Justice RM Chhaya and Justice Ilesh Vora directed both the Centre and the Gujarat government to file the report within June 19.

The petitioner has claimed that the imposition of the lockdown without safeguarding the livelihood of people has caused “untold hardships” for the citizens of the country. Bhamburkar has contended that the lockdown has resulted in food crisis, hunger, migrant crisis, and medical crisis.

He has also contended that the word “lockdown” does not find mention in the Disaster Management Act or the Constitution. Bhamburkar has contended before the court that the Constitution of India prevents the suspension of Article 20 and Article 21 even during a declared emergency. However, the situation during the lockdown was worse than that of an emergency without one being declared and without following the due process of law.

Article 20 of the Indian Constitution deals with protection in respect of conviction for offences, whereas Article 21 deals with the protection of life and personal liberty.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown on March 24 for three weeks and since then, it has been extended thrice and is still continuing.

India’s COVID-19 tally nearing 2 lakh, death toll at 5,598