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Covid-19:HC upholds cost imposed on trust seeking contempt action against govt officials

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Delhi High Court has upheld the cost imposed on a trust, which had sought contempt action against AAP government officials for not issuing it travel passes for relief work, saying it constituted an obstruction of officials work.
A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula said the contempt plea filed by the Civilian Welfare and Development Trust "not only constituted an obstruction in the carrying out of the relief work by government officials, but was also against public interest".
The bench said if officials of the trust were allowed to move in or out from a containment area, as was sought in its plea, they would have spread the highly contagious disease to other individuals and areas.
The trust, in the contempt plea before the single judge, had sought action against the authorities and a district magistrate for alleged wilful disobedience of an April 8 order of the high court in which an undertaking was given by the government that movement passes have already been issued to the volunteers of the trust for relief work.
The single judge in his April 15 order had directed the trust to pay the cost into the PM CARES Fund.
In the contempt plea, the trust alleged that its offices are located within Chandni Mahal area in Central Delhi and due to the containment order, they are unable to provide ration to needy persons there.
After the April 8 order, the Chandni Mahal area was declared as a containment area on April 10 and the trust officials were denied entry there.
In its appeal against the single judge's April 15 order, the trust contended that the Delhi government had never said the passes would not be valid for containment zones.
It also said that the government had undertaken to extend the passes for the lockdown period.
The Delhi government, in its defence, said there were 160 COVID-19 positive cases, which included nine police officials, in the Chandni Mahal area and 12 out of the 54 deaths in the national capital have occurred there.
After hearing both sides, the bench said while there was an undertaking to renew the passes, it was overridden by a supervening event -- declaring of Chandni Mahal as a containment area on April 10 -- and that order of the government has not yet been challenged.
The bench also noted that the April 10 order directed cordoning off the area to prevent movement of persons to stop spread of COVID-19 and restrained residents of the containment area from moving out of their houses.
"Consequently, in view of the subsequent order dated April 10, this court is of the view that the curfew passes, if any, issued to the residents of the containment area stood eclipsed," the bench said.

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First Published: Apr 27 2020 | 10:04 PM IST

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