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Plea for probe into Centre’s COVID-19 preparedness dismissed

A view of the Supreme Court building in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by several former bureaucrats to set up an Inquiry Commission to look into the government’s COVID-19 preparedness.

A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Ajay Rastogi said the court was not inclined to hear their plea alleging “gross mismanagement” on the part of the Centre in its preparations for the pandemic.

The petition was filed by six former bureaucrats, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan,

They had contended that mismanagement occurred at multiple levels, from not stocking enough protective and medical equipment to combat the health crisis to lack of early checking of incoming international passengers and handling the exodus of migrant workers during the lockdown. They said the extensive lockdown, which was imposed overnight, had a “devastating effect” on the life of ordinary people and violated their fundamental right to live with dignity by earning their livelihood. The lockdown has had a crippling effect on the economy.

The petition filed by the former bureaucrats like K.P. Fabian, M.G. Devasahayam and Amit Bhaduri, said the Centre’s response to the pandemic and its “deleterious impact” on the lives and livelihoods of the citizens was a “definite matter of public importance and warranted appointment of an Inquiry Commission.”

It alleged that the nationwide lockdown, which was announced on March 24, was “arbitrary, irrational and without due consultation with experts or State governments.”

They contended that the government failed to draw up a national plan and guidelines for providing minimum standards of relief to vulnerable sections of the society under the Disaster Management Act 2005.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 10:42:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/plea-for-probe-into-centres-covid-19-preparedness-dismissed/article32747793.ece

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