Rashid Paul

HC gives ‘last opportunity’ to GoI to submit report

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Attacks on journos, lawyers, other professionals…

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Friday gave “last opportunity” to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoH) Government of India to submit its report about the attacks on professionals including journalists and lawyers.

The court also asked the ministry to inform it on enactment of a law for the protection of the professionals on the pattern of health-care workers.

The court asked the MoH to submit its report by June 25. In case of failure, the court said “it will be compelled to take strict view in the matter.”

The warning followed the submission by the Assistant Solicitor General of India (ASGI) that “despite intimation, I have not received any response from the ministry.”

The court was hearing some Public Interest Litigations arising out of the special circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court had last month sought a report on the issue in which the lawyer representing the central government had said that MoH did not support the draft legislation by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, titled “Health Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2019”.

The draft legislation aimed to address the issue of attacks on health-care personnel and clinical establishments in the country.

The ASGI had said that enacting this kind of legislation would give rise to similar demands from other categories of professionals like media persons, advocates, bankers, charted accountants and others.

However, he cited a MoH communication stating “the State is duty-bound to protect life and property of all its citizens including professionals like media persons, doctors, engineers, advocates, bankers, etc.”

The court had, however, observed that it would be useful to have report from Government of India regarding receipt of complaints from any category of professionals, other than the health-care service personnel.

Meanwhile, the court today directed the Government of India owned telecom service provider, BSNL, to examine status of those locations in J&K which are without any kind of connectivity.

“The BSNL shall examine the status of these locations and place on record the manner in which connectivity can be provided to the residents of these areas,” the court directed.

“Connectivity” the court said “could be by way of internet facility or telephone facility in case there is any other mode which can be utilized for ensuring and improving the accessibilities of these areas.”

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