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People suffered more due to Lockdown than Coronavirus: Delhi HC

Delhi High Court also noted that the lockdown has resulted in loss of jobs for several lakhs of people

Friday June 12, 2020 5:50 PM, IANS

Lockdown Impact

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed various petitions challenging the governments order of "Unlock 1" and observed that "lockdown caused more suffering than the Covid-19 pandemic itself".

A Division Bench hearing the pleas took a strong view of the waste of time the hearing caused, termed the petition "misconceived" and filed only to "gain publicity".

The High Court also put a penalty of Rs 20,000 on the petitioner, who is a law student.

"Many were left shelterless. Several lakhs of migrant labourers had to walk on foot and go back to their native places. The economic situation of the country has taken a terrible hit due to the lockdown. In fact, many analysts have opined that the lockdown has caused more human suffering than COVID-19 itself," said a Division Bench presided by Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad.

'Lockdown left people jobless'

The court also noted that the lockdown has resulted in loss of jobs for several lakhs of people.

"Scores of people were forced to walk considerable distances during the lockdown and stand in long queues at food distribution centers just to have two square meals a day. Several have gone hungry and were not able to get one meal," the High Court said.

"World over, the trend is now to reduce the restrictions which were imposed due to lockdown and to return to normal life. In order to ensure a proper balance between containing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time make certain that people are not forced to starvation the Government has issued the impugned order," it said.

The observations were passed while the court was hearing a petition filed by law student Arjun Aggarwal challenging the government's order of relaxing the lockdown imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

'The Petition is misconceived'

Coming down heavily on the petitioner, the court said that during the hearing it had warned the counsel that if he presses the petition, the court would be constrained to dismiss it with costs and the warning was only given because the petitioner was a law student.

"Despite that, counsel for the petitioner upon taking instructions from the petitioner, continued to addressing arguments, wasting valuable judicial time. We deprecate this conduct of the petitioner. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed along with pending application with costs of Rs 20,000," the court ruled.

"The writ petition is completely misconceived and has been filed only to gain publicity," it said, adding that the petitioner who is a law student filed the same without looking at the position in law.

'Reopening will surge Covid-19'

Aggarwal in his petition challenged the guidelines on the ground that phased reopening will result in rampant spread of COVID-19 in the country.

He told the court that the the reopening has been done only keeping in mind economic considerations while endangering its citizens to the extent of succumbing to a contagious disease in the absence of any proven medical cure for it.

Following which the court said, "Economists have forecast that Indian economy will shrink as a result of the steps taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Indian economy virtually came to a standstill during the nationwide lockdown. Production in the country came to a grinding halt during the lockdown period.

"Construction activities in the country have stopped. People have become unemployed which raises grave concerns regarding the law and order situation in the country," the court said.

'Not a hasty decision'

The court also noted that the re-opening has been directed in a phased manner and is not a decision that appears to have been taken in haste.

"The Government is expected to remain cognizant of the situation and evaluate it closely. If it is found that the rate of infection is going up, they can always review their decision and impose curbs, depending upon the situation," the court said.

Through his counsel Apratim Animesh Thakur, Aggarwal contended that the impugned Notification will deprive the citizens of their basic fundamental rights such as life and it ignores the health of its citizens by exposing them to the threat from COVID-19.

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