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High Court declines to interfere with relaxation of curfew in Chandigarh

High Court declines to interfere with relaxation of curfew in Chandigarh

OBSERVING THAT scope of judicial interference in a policy matter is very limited, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Sunday declined to interfere with Chandigarh Administration's decision to relax curfew by allowing people to walk towards nearest shops and markets within their sectors from 10 am to 6 pm for shopping of essential goods.

"The order dated 27.03.2020 is valid;. We will not substitute our wisdom for the wisdom of the Administration during the crisis," said the division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Rakesh Kumar Jain in the order.

However, the Court also said maintaining social distance is sine qua non; (an essential condition) to control the disease and asked the UT Administration to solicit opinion of the specialists of infectious and communicable diseases while taking a decision during the ongoing lockdown pertaining to coronavirus outbreak.

The petition is disposed off 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 Court further said.

The hearing took place through video conferencing before a division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Rakesh Kumar Jain on Sunday morning. The order was pronounced in the afternoon. A Chandigarh-based lawyer Adityajit Singh Chada on Saturday had challenged the decision to relax ongoing restrictions in Chandigarh.

The District Magistrate Chandigarh on March 23 had ordered curfew in the Union Territory in wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus. While the public were restrained from leaving their houses, the Chandigarh Administration on Friday passed an order allowing one person from each household to step out of their houses between 10 am to 6 pm to visit their nearest shop or market. The residents, however, have not been allowed to use vehicles. The Administration also had ordered that the shops with essential commodities will remain open from 10 am to 6 pm.

Sector 9 resident, Chada, in the petition said, "Shockingly, once the things were being streamlined and all residents were adhering to the curfew, the respondent administration has now passed the impugned order dated 27.03.2020 vide which the earlier order stands superseded and the curfew as imposed by the Honourable Prime Minister of India stands relaxed."

Eight COVID-19 patients have been detected in Chandigarh till date.

The Chandigarh Administration before court on Sunday argued that it tried its best to ensure continuation of supplies of essential items, by using the buses of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking to provide food and vegetables to public at their doorsteps.

A huge crowd thronged the buses/trucks loaded with fruits, vegetables and the grocery items. The very purpose of social distancing was being challenged, said the administration, adding it would not have been possible to run the supply chain for long and accordingly a decision was taken to provide limited exemption for one person from each household to walk to their nearest shops.

(Inputs and iamge from theindianexpress.com)

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