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[COVID-19]: Essential Goods Available From 10AM To 6PM: Punjab & Haryana High Court Upholds Decision Of Chandigarh Admin [Read Order]

By Lawstreet News Network      Mar 31, 2020      0 Comments      1,001 Views
COVID 19 Essential Goods Available From 10AM-6PM

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, on March 29, 2020 upheld the decision of Chandigarh administration, dated March 27, 2020, to open ‘essential goods’ shops from 10AM till 6PM. 

Commodities such as food grains, groceries, fruits, vegetables, milk, meat and fish would remain open from 10 am to 6.00 pm daily, till further orders.

Amid the lockdown to curb the coronavirus (COVID-19), the decision has come under severe criticism from the doctor fraternity as well.

After a special sitting held on Sunday via video-conferencing, a bench comprising Justices Rajiv Sharma and Rakesh Kumar Jain observed.

"The order dated 27.03.2020 is valid. It has been issued in larger public interest. The scope of judicial interference in a policy matter is very limited. The Chandigarh Administration has weighed all the pros and cons before taking the decision. We will not substitute our wisdom for the wisdom of the Administration during this crisis. Maintaining social distance is a sine qua non to control the disease. The Administration may also solicit opinion of the specialists of infectious/communicable diseases, while taking a decision.".


The bench added:

"...the petition is disposed of with an observation that the Administration may lay down the parameters of social distancing at the time of distribution of essential items and also to monitor and regulate the same by taking stringent actions against the violators", the bench observed.

Advocate Adityajit Singh Chaddha filed the petition contending that such flexibility would defeat the purpose of the lockdown.

However, the administration time and again has ensured that they encourage home delivery system, e-vending accompanied with social distancing guidelines.

The bench expressed satisfaction about the impugned decision, and also the measures adopted by the administration to follow lockdown guidelines.

"It is, thus, evident that the order dated 27.03.2020 has been issued as per the guidelines issued by the Union of India and after holding consultations with the Director, PGIMER, Chandigarh; the Director, Health Services, Chandigarh and DGP. The whole exercise has been undertaken to maintain regular supply of essential items to the public at large", the bench observed.

In a fresh letter to states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla clarified that all goods, without distinction of essential and non-essential, were allowed as per the first addendum issued to the guidelines of March 24.

He said the entire supply chain of milk collection and distribution, including its packing materials, has also been allowed during the lock-down period as well as the services of the Indian Red Cross Society. 

Bhalla also said hygiene products such as hand wash, soaps, disinfectants, body wash, shampoos, surface cleaners, detergents and tissue paper, toothpaste and other oral care items, sanitary pads and diapers, battery cells and chargers also come under the umbrella of groceries. Amid complaints that several of these services are not allowed, Bhalla asked states to inform district authorities and field agencies about this.


[Read Order]

Author:  Aarya Mishra

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