Andhra Pradesh High Court
Andhra Pradesh High Court
Litigation News

Coronavirus: Andhra Pradesh HC extends interim orders, directs provision of safety gear for health workers, protection of the poor and more

Meera Emmanuel

Taking stock of various concerns arising following the national lockdown put in place to curb the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the High Court of Andhra Pradesh has issued detailed directions including on the extension of interim orders passed by Courts in the State for a month.

Among other directions, the Division Bench of Chief Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice M Satyanarayana Murthy has also extended by a month all bail, anticipatory bail and suspension orders and orders for stay in demolition, eviction, dispossession and auction.

General directions have also been issued to ensure the safety of medical professionals involved in treating COVID-19 patients and those of people who are moving between Telangana and Andra Pradesh.

On the issue of inter-state movement, the Court has directed that the concerned authorities follow National Protocol to make sure that necessary quarantine measures are observed by the travelling persons. The Court has made note to add, “…In any case, care of females with children and pregnant women must be undertaken by the authorities with humanity; however, officers of both the States shall observe National Protocol applying exceptional circumstances with due care.”

Notably, the order also calls on doctors to ensure the confidentiality of patients who are being treated or check for COVID-19.

Moreover, the Bench has directed authorities to be vigilant against the possible spread of coronavirus through sea ports, given that travel restrictions placed to contain it have mostly focused on road travel, train and air travel.

A general procedure has also been outlined for moving urgent matters before the Court during the lockdown as follows:

  • A URL is being developed, which shall be notified by Registrar General.

  • The URL will be published in the official website of the High Court for e-filing so that genuine grievances may be brought before the Court.

  • The petitions may be submitted by way of e-mail, viz., regjudaphc@nic.

  • On submission of the petitions, the Government may submit their objections and they shall be considered for the purpose of interim relief by the High Court through the Benches constituted by the Chief Justice.

  • This may be done by way of Video Conference and if necessary opportunity of personal hearing may be offered on demand.

  • Otherwise, interim relief may be considered on the facts and circumstances of the case.

The other directions issued in the order passed on Thursday are as follows:

On extension of Interim orders/ interim relief

  • In the cases in which interim orders were passed by the High Court, District Courts, Civil Courts, Family Courts, Labour Courts, Industrial and other Tribunals, functioning in the State of Andhra Pradesh, over which the High Court has the power of superintendence and the stay has expired two weeks prior or are due to expire within a period of one month, shall continue to operate for a further period of one month from today. It is made clear here that interim orders which are having a limited duration shall continue to operate until further orders;

  • In criminal matters where bail/suspension has been granted by the Court either anticipatory or regular for a limited period, which are likely to expire within one month from today, shall be automatically extended for a further period of one month from today;

  • In the matters in which demolition, dispossession, eviction, auction is in question, in those cases, if limited stay is granted, it be treated to be extended for one month or otherwise, the instrumentalities shall not proceed for the above until one month from today;

  • Additionally, it has been directed that in the matters of tenders, if they have not been finalized, they shall not be given effect to for a period of one month and the process may be made after expiry of the lock-down period.

Safety measures for Health Professionals, Police etc.

  • The State Government is directed to ensure and provide all necessary equipment like N-95 masks, sterile medical gloves, starch apparels, personal protection equipment and all other necessary things to the Doctors in the dispensaries and other Paramedical staff, thereby they may be in a position to provide medical aid to the citizens;

  • The Police, Doctors, paramedical staff and other persons engaged in these days may be provided adequate facilities on account of rendering emergent services by them.

Regarding overcrowding in Prisons

The Court was told that in line with a recent order of the Supreme Court, a Committee had been formed to look into the decongestion of prisons by release prisoners in offences where the maximum period of sentence is seven years or less.

This committee had also proposed that such prisoners be release on interim bail. Accordingly, the Bench also ordered that such prisoners "may be released on interim bail on furnishing adequate bail bonds if they are not second offenders and also not offenders under Section 376 of IPC and POCSO Act, for a period of one month.”

The Court further added:

  • For the purpose of bail bond, it is however directed that the Principal District and Sessions Judge shall assign the Judicial Magistrate to reach the District Jails on being asked by the Superintendent of the Central Jail of his area, for furnishing/accepting adequate bail bonds to the satisfaction of the Magistrate, for their release to a limited period;

  • The undertaking shall be taken from them for having quarantine for 14 days at their home under the surveillance of the Doctor with the help of the Police;

  • Violation of conditions would entail cancellation of the interim bail/suspension and such persons who violate the conditions may be taken to custody immediately;

  • The Court was informed by the Director of Social Welfare, Kritika Shukla, that there are only a limited number of inmates in the remand homes and therefore, social distancing have be done within the remand home itself. The Court, however, added that special care and caution should be taken for social distancing when it comes to children in the remand homes;

  • The said social distancing must be maintained in the CCIs., and SAAs., in the State.

Confidentiality, non-discrimination of patients

  • In the case of health checkup, the State shall protect the confidentiality regarding patients

  • Poor patients shall not be discriminated.

Ensure availability of essential goods

  • The marginalised and poor must have access to healthcare and they should be provided adequate food facilities; thereby they should not sleep with empty stomach in the night;

  • Essential items may be made available to the citizens as specified in the circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs dated 24.03.2020 specifying the protocol to those vendors;

On ensuring vigil at seaports

  • Flights, trains have been stopped and the road transportation has also been checked due to lock-down, but in the State of Andhra Pradesh, there is a coastal area, where ships are coming to the ports.

  • Due care and caution as directed by the Central Government must be taken by the authorities in the ports at Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Machilipatnam, Kalingapatnam and other sea ports.

  • The port authorities are directed to take special measures in this regard in coordination with the State authorities.

[Read the Order]

COVID-19 - Andhra Pradesh HC Order.pdf
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