The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and state government to respond to a PIL which challenged the Constitutional validity of the coronavirus-induced lockdown by claiming it forced people under "house arrest" without any backing of law, and left the vulnerable section struggling for survival with no safeguards provided to them before its implementation.
The division bench of Justices RM Chhaya and IJ Vora directed the government pleader and assistant solicitor general to take instructions from the Central and state governments and submit a report on June 19, and tag the PIL with other PILs related to coronavirus and lockdown being heard by the court.
The PIL, filed by one Vishvas Bhamburkar through his lawyer KR Koshti, sought the court's direction to declare the lockdown "unconstitutional and ultra vires on account of it being illegal, arbitrary, unjust, and bad in law and same may be struck down in the interest of justice".
It also sought the court's direction to declare the notifications issued with regards to 'Janata curfew' and lockdown as "unconstitutional and without any authority of law".
The petitioner said lockdown, imposed starting March 24 by invoking Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act "suspended Article 14 of the Constitution of India by keeping the people of the country illegally restrained inside their houses without any backing of the law".
Criminal cases registered against a large number of people for allegedly violating lockdown has caused "untold harassment to the citizens," when the lockdown itself is violative of the Constitution of India, the PIL said.
Lockdown hurt the vulnerable sections a lot, who were left struggling for survival and existence, as no safeguard was provided by the authorities before implementing it.
"The provisions of DMA, more particularly sections 12 and 13 which ensured the welfare of the persons and protected their livelihoods (Article 21) and other reasonable interests were not invoked; therefore the lockdown was neither imposed constitutionally nor has it been implemented legally, logically nor scientifically," the PIL said.
"While four days' lead time was given for the Janata Curfew, barely four hours' time was given to the crores of Indians to arrange their lives and livelihoods in an orderly manner," it said.