New Delhi, The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a PIL by former Uttar Pradesh police chief Vikram Singh seeking direction to quash nearly 75,000 FIRs registered for violating orders of lockdown and petty offences during the coronavirus pandemic.
A bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B.R. Gavai questioned Singh’s counsel, “You want there should be no FIR and this (Section 188 IPC) should not be invoked…then how can the lockdown be enforced?”
The bench wondered why such petitions were coming to the apex court? Singh’s PIL sought quashing of nearly 75,000 FIRs registered under Section 188 of the IPC and other provisions for violation of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan said this person has been on the field and also has experience. “The submission is that we cannot have rule of law, which is selective. You cannot have one rule of law for those who have to travel by chartered flights…,” said the advocate.
Justice Kaul replied he “can see an agenda”. The lawyer contended that if the law didn’t permit registration of FIRs then the NDMA law cannot be allowed for registration of FIRs. He told the bench that cases have been registered against migrants and those withdrawing money from ATMs.
Singh filed the PIL in his capacity as the Chairman of a think-tank — Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC). He requested the apex court to issue directions, under the Disaster Management Act 2005, to state governments to not file complaints under Section 188 of the IPC or for other petty offences during the lockdown.
“Police action on an individual who is perhaps suffering from distress and lack of information as a result of the circumstances has ramifications which can extend beyond the coronavirus lockdown, and cannot be good for a constitutional democracy. The situation needs to be handled humanely, and it will be best to avoid adding aspects of criminality, wherever possible,” Singh’s plea stated.