NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Friday a plea which has sought a direction to the Centre to appoint a commission, headed by a retired apex court judge, for inquiry into the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The petition has alleged that the Centre failed to undertake timely and effective measures for containing transmission of the virus and an independent inquiry by a commission, appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1952, was essential to inquire into the “lapses”.
As per the cause list uploaded on the apex court website, the plea, filed by six petitioners including retired bureaucrats, is scheduled to come up for hearing on August 14 before a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao.
The petition, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, has claimed that the Centre’s response to the pandemic and its “deleterious impact” on the lives and livelihoods of the citizens is a “definite matter of public importance and warrants appointment of a commission” under section 3 of the Act.
The plea has claimed that the nationwide lockdown, which had commenced from March 25, and the manner in which it was implemented has had a “devastating impact” on jobs, livelihood and the overall economy.
It alleged that the nationwide lockdown, which was announced on March 24, was “arbitrary, irrational and without due consultation with experts or state governments”.
“In spite of being the harshest and most restrictive lockdown in the world, it has failed to arrest the spread of the disease,” the plea claimed and also referred to the “exodus” of migrant workers and daily wagers during the lockdown from cities to their respective home towns.
It alleged that the authority has also failed in drawing up national plan and issuing guidelines for providing minimum standards of relief to vulnerable sections of the society under the Disaster Management Act 2005.
The plea alleged that there was delay in ensuring adequate supplies of personal protective equipment for safety of healthcare workers during the pandemic.
It claimed that the Centre has failed to undertake effective measures for containing the transmission of virus even after being notified about it by the World Health Organization (WHO) in early January this year.
The plea has alleged that these lapses “while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a severe infraction of the fundamental rights of people”. It claimed that prior to March 4 and during the months of January and February, the authorities have failed to conduct screening and surveillance of adequate number of international passengers.