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Encouraging self-quarantine in view of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Allahabad High Court has directed state government authorities to defer any proceedings relating to recovery, auction, eviction, and demolition for two weeks (Darpan Sahu v. State of UP & Ors.).
The Bench of Justices Ramesh Sinha and Ajit Kumar has also directed District Magistrates and other administrative authorities not to direct the appearance of any person in pending matters till April 6.
It was also observed by the Bench,
“…we cannot remain oblivious of the impending threat of fatal consequences of COVID-19. Today, there is an extraordinary situation in the country due to pandemic Corona Virus and therefore, it calls for an extraordinary measure to be taken to contain COVID-19. It is a situation where 'self quarantine' should be encouraged amongst people in the society in particular and the country in general.”
Allahabad High Court
The Court, therefore, barred the authorities from taking any coercive measures against any person or body of persons so as to force them to approach the Court for redressal of grievances.
Thus, the following directions were issued:
"a. All the recovery proceedings at the end of the district administration, financial institutions and other administrative bodies/authorities/agencies and otherwise at the end of the instrumentalities of the State shall be deferred for a period of two weeks i.e. till 6.4.2020.
b. All the auction proceedings, if any pending or initiated in the meanwhile, shall remain deferred for a period of two weeks i.e. till 6.4.2020.
c.The District Magistrates and the Administrative Authorities are also restrained from issuing any directions for presence of any person or persons in connection with any pending or any other proceeding for a period of two weeks i.e. till 6.4.2020.
d. No demolition exercise shall be carried out at the instance of District Administration or any authorities under the State Government/local bodies for a period of two weeks i.e. till 6.4.2020.
e. No eviction or dispossession exercise against anyone be undertaken for a period of two weeks i.e. till 6.4.2020."
The Court also directed that a copy of this order be sent to the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, who is required to issue necessary directions/circulars to all the concerned authorities throughout the state within 48 hours.
These directions were passed in a petition challenging the legality of certain recovery proceedings. The Bench had earlier passed an order in the matter on March 5, restraining the Tehsildar from pursuing the recovery proceedings.
While extending the interim order in the case, the Court noted,
“…we are also of the opinion that due to serious threat presently to the society in the country due to pandemic disease of Corona Virus(COVID-19), it has become necessary to issue directions to the State Government to issue necessary circulars/directives to the various authorities including the District Magistrates of every district of the State and other Government Agencies and authorities not to take coercive measures or any exercise against any individual or body of individuals which may force them to approach the Courts for legal remedies and also to avoid any public gathering pursuant to any such proceedings like auction etc.
If still we remain oblivious to the fatal effect of the COVID-19, it would result into a panic situation in the society as while people should be more concerned of health issues will be unnecessarily forced to face litigation in the Courts.”
After a court employee was suspected to have contracted the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Allahabad High Court has reportedly been closed down from March 19-21.
[Read the order]