Covid-19: Bar Association urges PM to amend law to allow citizens to seek damages from China

NEW DELHI: On Sunday he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to amend Section 86 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which restricts a citizen's scope to sue a foreign government, allowing lawsuits to be brought against China to seek damages for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Describing China's pandemic of manual labor, Association President Adish C Aggarwala said the government should introduce an ordinance to amend the CCP Section that will allow Indians to seek harm in China from the disease that has stopped the economy. and claimed 2,752 lives.

The pandemic is the work of the People's Republic of China. The virus is the creation of its laboratories by order of the government that is now trying to cover its tracks, he alleged.

The virus, developed with a remarkable ability to mutate, spread and afflict, and with an unprecedented death rate, has been deliberately and consciously provoked around the world by the Chinese government, as part of its design, it claimed in the letter.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Aggarwala, a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and President of the International Council of Jurists, said that according to section 86 of the CPC of India, no foreign State can be sued in any court competent to judge the claim, except with the consent of the Central Government certified in writing by a Secretary of that Government.

It should be noted that the foregoing provision allows lawsuits to impose contractual obligations with respect to the commercial activity in which a government participates, but not for damages for commission of tort. There is no logic underlying this distinction, he said.

A law that tends to completely eliminate a person's ability to defend their rights is itself a nullity, he said.

As the law is today, there is no other remedy available to an individual against the State of China. An individual also cannot go directly to the International Court of Justice to seek damages, he said.

The State Immunity Doctrine, countries that enjoy the protection of being sued in courts of other countries, applies to those that have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their properties.

He said that the India that signed the Convention on January 12, 2007 has not yet ratified it. China is also a signatory, but did not ratify it, he said.

Aggarwala, in the absence of ratification, India has no obligation to exempt China or any other country from being prosecuted or sued in India for any violation.

Any citizen will have the right to sue in India once the CrPC is amended. At the international level, anyone can approach the United Nations Human Rights Council only. No other court or tribunal for this purpose told PTI by phone.

When asked if the verdict of the Indian courts would be binding on China, he said: Yes. Once there is a decree from the Indian court, then China will be required to pay. If China is not making the decree payment, then the decree can be enforced from China's assets in India and the decrees can be transferred to the Chinese courts for enforcement.