New Delhi 30.03.2020. A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions for notification of financial emergency under Article 360 of the Constitution to safeguard the Rule of Law in India, which is being threatened by arbitrary actions of States and local authorities during COVID-19 epidemic.
The petition has been filed by a think tank, Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (SASC) which has said that after the declaration of COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organisation, the Prime Minister of India after the success of Junta Curfew announced a country wise lockdown for 21 days by an Order dated 24.03.2020 by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The petitioner asserts that such an order imposes several restrictions and puts in place many mechanisms, which cannot be done by a mere Order of the Ministry. He further contended that “even after announcement, different States and police authorities are continuing to take their own action under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in the guise of orders issued by the Central Government which amounts to constitutional fraud.”
The petitioner asserts that divergence of steps taken by different authorities are causing lawlessness in the country. Moreover, due to the lockdown, economic activities have come to a standstill which requires unified command between Central and State Governments for the recovery of the Indian Economy after Lockdown is over.
After the lockdown, the fundamental right to freedom of movement and other rights under Article 21 have been suspended and hence the petitioner has prayed that the situation requires the imposition of emergency as per the constitution and not an order under Disaster Management Act, 2005.