The Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sindhu Sharma, while hearing public interest litigation pertaining to spread of Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) on Monday issued a series of directions to Government and its departments.

The entire proceedings in the matter were conducted through video conferencing and video calls. Both the Judges heard the matter from their respective residences in Jammu.

On being apprised by Amicus Curiae that about 400 pilgrims from Bihar stranded at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, Katra are being asked to vacate their current lodgings, the Division Bench directed Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and the Deputy Commissioner, Reasi to ensure that these pilgrims are not asked to vacate their current lodgings and their needs are fully provided till such time as the lockdown persists.

Directions were also issued to Secretary, Department of Health and Medical Education of both the Union Territories together with the IGP, Jammu, IGP, Kashmir and IGP, Ladakh to ensure that complete safety and security is provided to the personnel who are serving at all government facilities. Both UT governments were also directed to ensure that the accommodation, healthcare and the needs of the migrant labourers, if not already provided for, are addressed.

Taking into account the fact that despite nationwide lockdown, a large number of people are resorting to their usual strolls, loitering and morning walks in local parks etc., the Division Bench directed the law enforcing authorities and park owning authorities (all municipal corporations, development authorities) to prevent access to public parks, etc which are normally used for such purposes by the citizens.

The Ministry of External Affairs was also directed to look into the aspect of the evacuation of persons who are stranded and need to be evacuated to India on priority.

The Home Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir was directed to file an interim report regarding the functioning of the High Powered Committee constituted for the examination of the prisoners required to be released from prisons.

The Division Bench directed Mission Director ICPS to scrutinise the estimates of Rs 33.64 lakhs for provision of the lease line connections to 24 locations of Juvenile Justice Boards and Observation Homes submitted by the BSNL at an earliest. The Court was apprised that back up facilities in the nature of inverters etc. in the JJBs have been provided so that video conferencing on available apparatus can be conducted.

The Division Bench appreciated the manner in which the authorities in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Ladakh, are addressing the current crisis.


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