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Plea in SC seeks imposition of financial emergency in view of lockdown over coronavirus

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New Delhi, Mar 26 :  A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking imposition of financial emergency in the country claiming that economic activities have “come to a standstill” due to the lockdown over coronavirus pandemic.

The plea has claimed that “divergence of steps” taken by different authorities to deal with situation arising out of Covid-19 have caused confusion and to safeguard rule of law, imposition of financial emergency under Article 360 of the Constitution is needed.

The petition, filed by Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC), has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced countrywide lockdown for 21 days during which several restrictions have been put in place.

“Divergence of steps taken by different authorities are causing confusion and lawlessness (which) in no way can be solution to a problem as grave as Covid-19. Due to the lockdown, the economic activities have come to a standstill. Hence, it is most humbly submitted that financial emergency needs to be imposed in the country under Article 360 of the Constitution of India,” said the plea, filed through advocate Virag Gupta.

It has also sought a direction to the Centre to suspend collection of utility bills like that of electricity, water, gas, telephone, internet and EMI payments during the period of lockdown.

The plea also said that state police and concerned authorities should be directed to strictly comply with the directions of the union home ministry so that essential services are not disrupted.

It said that prevailing situation in the country due to Covid-19 might be the “biggest emergency” in independent India and it must be addressed as per constitutional provisions through unified command between the Centre and state governments.

“This will be required not only to defeat the war against coronavirus but also in recovery of the Indian economy after lockdown is over. Almost all the fundamental right to freedom of movement, most rights under Article 21 and various other fundamental rights have been practically suspended during this lockdown,” it said.

CASC has applied online to the apex court seeking urgent hearing of its plea through video conferencing.

The apex court, which has restricted its functioning to contain the spread of Coronavirus, had recently issued a circular saying that matters which are extremely urgent in nature would be heard through video-conferencing.

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