Madras High Court on Wednesday expressed concern over the allocation only Rs 510 crore so far to fight coronavirus in Tamil Nadu, directed the centre to consider increasing the state’s share. Taking a serious view of violation of the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus, the court also directed the state police to arrest those flouting orders and seize their vehicles.
A bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and R Hemalatha, hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), observed that the quantum allocated to Tamil Nadu was lower than the apportionment to states that have lesser COVID-19 cases.
Impleading the Union Home Ministry as a respondent, the bench in its interim order said out that of 5,194 people infected by coronavirus (in the country), as on date Tamil Nadu stands second with 690 patients, while Maharashtra stands first with 1,018 patients.
However, with regard to the release of Disaster Risk Management Fund, the Home Ministry has released only Rs 510 crore which in the opinion of this court was not adequate, whereas, the states which have got lesser number of virus infected patients have been allotted more fund, it said.
“This Court is not against the allotment of more fund to the other states, but concerned about Tamil Nadu getting lesser amount of fund. Therefore, the Central Government may positively consider increasing the amount,” the bench said.
A city-based NGO, India Awake for Transparency, filed the PIL seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to ensure 100 per cent testing of all people who have been exempted from the lockdown.
Pointing out to the significance of social distancing and appealing to people to stay indoors, the court directed the Additional Advocate General Aravind Pandiyan to file a status report.
Also, the bench directed the state government to arrest motorists as well as seize their vehicles, two wheelers or four wheelers, when used in violation of curbs under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and if anybody comes out of their houses beyond 1 pm.
The state government has allowed functioning of groceries and other outlets vending essentials to be open only upto 1 pm in an attempt to curb the movement of people.
The bench directed police authorities to enquire and inform the employers of the violators (government or private sector) about the violations by their employees and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
While referring to daily wagers, migrant workers and platform dwellers who are without food and shelter, the bench in its order said the authorities are directed to verify the persons who are without food and shelter and provide them by having community kitchens.