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Lawyers collective seeks to sue China for COVID-19

Every citizen of India has been affected from different angles, it says

The government should allow private citizens to seek compensation from China for the spread of the novel coronavirus, a collective of Indian lawyers has argued. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the All India Bar Association has blamed China for the pandemic and asked for altering of laws so that citizens suffering financial and emotional losses because can seek damages from China.

“Every citizen of India has been affected from different angles. The affected persons wish to seek justice from the courts. One of the ways in which such accountability can be pinned is by judicial recourse for recovery of damages from the Chinese government,” said a letter signed by Dr. Adish C. Aggarwala, chairman of the association.

Also read: India caught in U.S.-China spat over Taiwan’s status at WHO

Under the Civil Procedure Code, a foreign power can be sued in an Indian court. However, this is possible only with the prior consent of the Central government. Mr. Aggarwala sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to amend Section 86 of the CPC that makes it mandatory to get clearance of Delhi. The Ministry of External Affairs is yet to comment on this development.

“Parliament is not in session, so the government can bring in an ordinance and make the changes in Section 86 of CPC,” he argued. The legal association’s letter has added to the larger diplomatic context of the pandemic which will be at the centre of the WHO’s 73rd World Health Assembly during May 18-19. India will be elected the new Chair of the Executive Board of WHO in this session.

The session is expected to witness heavy diplomatic activities as India has joined 62 other WHO member countries supporting a joint Australia-European Union motion at the Assembly for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive” assessment of the pandemic.

The resolution does not expressly mention China or the reported origin of the virus in the city of Wuhan, but Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was one of the first global leaders to accuse China of the pandemic and therefore the draft resolution’s intent is being interpreted accordingly. Sources here indicated that they expect tough exchanges at the crucial meeting in Geneva which will be spread over two days and will be conducted mostly through online processes.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 6:32:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lawyers-collective-seeks-to-sue-china-for-covid-19/article31610771.ece

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