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President can be wrong, Says Uttarakhand High Court to Centre

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During a hearing on the imposition of President’s rule in the hill state, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday observed that President’s ruling is not above judicial review and told the ruling dispensation that even the President can go wrong.

The Centre on Wednesday claimed that the court cannot challenge the President’s assent which led to a sharp observation from the judges.

As additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta defended President’s Rule, the court said the case can be re-examined as there is ‘no king or absolutism’.

“There is no such decision like that of the king which can’t be subject to judicial review, that’s the essence of our Constitution. Even President can go wrong, everything is subject to judicial review. You should rejoice at the evolution we have had. We are not doubting wisdom of the President but everything is subject to judicial review. However high you may be, law is above you,” the HC said.

The court pointed out that the Governor in his report on March 25 report have clearly stated  that he was awaiting the floor test on 28. When the Additional Solicitor General argued “let us not screen these reports like a mathematical formula”, the court ruled “of course we have to because you say this was the material the President relied on”.

“How can it be said that the 35 MLAs would have voted against the government unless and until it is actually done,” the court asked on Tuesday. “What the speaker would do on March 27 could not have been divined by the cabinet on March 26. Assuming that they did divine, it was entirely irrelevant, for the central government to take that decision (to impose President’s rule) because then it would mean that the central government would be accused to be involved in politics,” the bench said.

 

On Tuesday, the HC had said that by imposing President’s Rule the Centre was taking away the powers of an elected government and introducing “chaos” and that floor test “cannot be deprived of its sanctity”.

The Uttarakhand High Court had  questioned the Centre’s move to impose President’s Rule in the state in the fifth year of the Congress Government.

“The Governor is not an agent of the Centre. This colours our mind. Can you remove a government based on a solitary incident and the government, which is in its fifth year? The root of the matter is you are cutting at root of democracy. Interference in the affairs of states is not to be seen lightly, emergency power should be used in extraordinary cases,” the court said.

The HC is hearing a petition by deposed chief minister Harish Rawat challenging the President’s Rule that was imposed on March 27, a day before Rawat was asked to prove his majority in an assembly floor test.

 

Disaster

ITAT resolves to donate one-day salary to PM’s relief fund

The tribunal also urged its other stakeholders to contribute generously to the PM CARES fund.

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New Delhi, March 30 : Officers and staff of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) have resolved to contribute one day’s salary to PM CARES Fund in order to help the Central government contain coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, a public charitable trust, has been set up to provide emergency relief.

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal President P.P. Bhatt said that the institution recognizes its social and national responsibilities.

“It has been decided in consultation with all the Vice Presidents of ITAT to contribute one day’s salary to the PM CARES Fund in respect of all officers and staff of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal,” he said.

President, Vice Presidents, Members, Registry Officers and other staff will help the nation in fighting the ongoing pandemic, he added.

The tribunal also urged its other stakeholders to contribute generously to the PM CARES fund.

“The donations to this fund have been made exempt from income tax under Section 80 (G) of the Income-tax Act, 1961,” the ITAT president clarified.

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Cities

Returning migrants pose huge challenge to Bihar govt

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Patna, March 30 : The migrant labourers returning to Bihar has posed a big challenge to the state government — to keep them in 14-day isolation to contain coronavirus spread.

Over 45,000 people had reached the UP towns bordering Bihar and more than 100,000 were expected by evening, said a Bihar Disaster Management Department official, here on Monday.

Pratyam Amrit, Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, said, “Six camps have been set up along the Bihar-UP border. By Monday, we are expecting 1.30 lakh people to reach the borders. We are looking to provide them food and make arrangements for their stay during the quarantine period.”

The state government, he said was taking all precautionary measures even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24. After emergence of Covid-19 cases in the state, the government had made arrangements even in the rural areas to provide food and shelter and screen villagers for infection, he added.

But the influx of workers from Delhi has created serious problem the state government. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed displeasure at the migrant workers being sent back to Bihar.

“People from other states are being registered at the disaster border relief camps. Their health is being checked. After food and rest, they are being provided buses by the Transport Department in the district headquarters. Arrangements have been made to send them, ” said another official.

The process could continue for two-three days, he added.

Principal Secretary Deepak Kumar said arrangements were being made to send Biharis coming from outside to their villages. “All the Block Development Officers, Head of panchayats and sarpanches have been asked to monitor the situation and follow quarantine and social distancing norms,” Kumar said.

Those who had returned from abroad after March 10 were being investigated. The government has a list of 1,790 such people.

The Chief Minister after high-level meetings have ordered one-month’s ration free to 1.68 crore cardholders and payment of three months’ pension to all pensioners.

A control room has also been set up at Bihar Bhawan in Delhi to help people.

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Cities

Two Tablighi Jammat participants die of suspected coronavirus

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New Delhi, March 30 : Two persons have died of suspected COVID-19 in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area from a group of people who had come from various parts of the country and abroad to take part in Tablighi Jammat, a religious gathering of the Muslim community.

Of the two elderly persons who died, one was from Tamil Nadu and the other belonged to Kashmir. All the participants aged over 60 had been admitted to various hospitals in Delhi. Out of them six people have been found to be coronavirus positive.

Shoaib Ali, the spokesman of Tablighi Jamaat, however, said, “We have no information of anybody testing positive for coronavirus.”

Admitting that two persons have died, Ali said that one of them Masgir, 63, complained of fever and cough and was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital on Saturday. He was from Tamil Nadu.

“But they have not given us any report whether he died of coronavirus or not,” he said.

Shoaib Ali also denied that the death of the second person was due to coronavirus.

“On March 6, an elderly person, 65, from Sopore, Kashmir, had come to participate in Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area. He died of a heart attack in Kashmir last week,” Ali said. However, according to reports in the Kashmir media, he was coronavirus positive.

However, Ali confirmed that the entire area has been cordoned off and about 2000 people have been quarantined and are being tested for coronavirus in this thickly populated area of South Delhi.

This is the largest single group being tested for the highly contagious COVID-19, which is transmitted easily from person to person.

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