Everyone has become a Covid expert, PILs keep coming: SC

NEW DELHI: Flooded with the constant stream of PIL suggesting a myriad of courses of action to be taken by governments during the Covid-19 lockdown, an exasperated Supreme Court said Tuesday that everyone seems to have become an expert in the pandemic.

Whether they are lawyers, social activists, retired police/bureaucrats or management experts, a large number of PILs by them required the SC to establish banks to deal with at least a dozen of these on a daily basis. A bank of judges Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay K Kaul and B R Gavai said, the problem is that everyone has become an expert. There is no one else to come listen. People are creating work when there is no work.

Two retired police officers, whose lawyer often reiterated that they are decorated officers, presented PIL, one seeking SC intervention to direct governments to provide personal protective equipment to police officers, while the other sought an address to nullify all FIRs hosted under Section 188 IPC to reserve individuals whose blockade violated.

Introducing himself to retired police officer Bhanupratap Barge, chief attorney Devadatt Kamat said the police officers were both front-line warriors in the war against Covid-19, and doctors, nurses, and health workers. They must get protection against infection, he said. Kamat also sought direction to the Center and states to incentivize police officers to perform a challenging task of imposing the blockade and maintaining law and order despite being exposed to possible infection. Sadly said Rajasthan, Odisha and have decided to cut the salaries of the police.

However, the court declined to consider the request, saying it is a matter of policy for governments to decide. He asked Kamat to ask his client to send the petition on behalf of the government.

Another request by retired police officer Vikram Singh claimed that police across India have filed more than 75,000 FIRs under Section 188 of (violating legal orders approved by public servants) to reserve those who have met the closure restrictions. The petitioner cited an earlier SC ruling that the offenses under Section 188 IPC or not actionable. Many FIRs are against migrant workers who had gone to withdraw money from ATMs, he said. But the bank refused to consider the request, saying that if Section 188 was not invoked, how would the police enforce the blockade during the pandemic?