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Voluntary Organizations cannot be prevented from distributing food to the weaker sections: Karnataka HC

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The voluntary organizations cannot be prevented from distributing food to the weaker sections of the society so long as they are following the norms of social distancing and taking other precautionary measures, said Karnataka High Court

A division bench of the Karnataka High Court led by Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna was hearing a batch of petitions where one of the petitioners, Know Your Rights Association had filed an application bringing the Courts attention the attention to the action taken by Kalaburagi District Administration which had issued an order dated 30th March, 2020 which suggests that “organizations which are distributing food to beggars, needy and the homeless, are committing direct violation of the prohibitory order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.”

The petitioner prayed for a modification of the said order permitting individuals, voluntary organizations, NGOs, etc. to continue with the work of supplying the food to the underprivileged and poorer sections of the society.

The bench suggesting to the State Government said, that the activities of NGOs working in the field need to be co-ordinated. Directing the State Government to respond by April 16, the bench further said that “if the State Government is unable to provide a portal where all the NGOs can upload their information, the State must consider of convening meetings at the district level, municipal level, etc. via Video Conferencing for co-ordinating the activities of NGOs.”

On being informed by the counsel appearing for Karnataka State Legal Services Authority that para-legal volunteers (PLVs) associated with the DLSAs are being issued passes by the Secretaries of the concerned DSLAs, however, the police are not permitting the PLVs to move on the basis of such passes, the bench directed that “on a requisition made by the Chairpersons of the DLSAs to the concerned State officials, requisite number of passes shall be issued forthwith to enable the PLVs to perform the duties which are entrusted to them.”

On perusing the report of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) which drew the court’s attention to the Circular dated 11th April, 2020 issued by the Government of Karnataka on the subject of opening of shelter homes for migrants, homeless persons, destitute and those who have been stranded on the streets due to COVID-19 lockdown, the bench suggested BBMP to hold a video conference meeting with the members of the Bar appearing in hearing through video conferencing. BBMP has been further directed to file compliance reports by April 15.

-India Legal Bureau

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