Punjab and Haryana High Court Contemplates Quashing COVID-19 Norm Violation Cases

punjab and haryana high court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: November 07, 2023 at 14:25 IST

The Punjab and Haryana High Court is considering the possibility of quashing all criminal cases filed against individuals who violated official COVID-19 safety guidelines during the pandemic.

In a recent development, a division bench of Justices GS Sandhawalia and Harpreet Kaur Jeewan directed the states of Punjab and Haryana, along with the Chandigarh Administration, to submit a status report on such cases registered between March 15, 2020, and February 28, 2022.

These cases primarily involved charges under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant), as well as provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, and the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The Court expressed concerns about whether these cases should continue to burden the judicial system, considering that they were initiated during the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic when essential instructions were issued to protect citizens.

As a result, the Court sought relevant information from the authorities to make an informed decision on this matter.

This initiative is part of suo motu proceedings launched by the Court in 2021 to oversee the progress of criminal cases against lawmakers in the region. After a status report revealed a significant number of pending cases under Section 188 of the IPC, the Court requested Senior Advocate RS Khosla, the amicus curiae in the case, to present recommendations on how to dispose of such cases. In response, Khosla suggested that the Court could exercise its authority under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution to quash these proceedings.

The Court concurred with this approach and decided that this exercise should extend to all such cases rather than being limited to benefit specific individuals whose cases were monitored by the Court as per directions from the Supreme Court.

The Court instructed the states and the Union Territory to submit a status report detailing the number of cases registered during the COVID-19 period, including those currently pending in the courts. It also requested information on whether any public servants were injured in any of these cases.

The matter has been adjourned until February 9, 2024.

Related Post