Supreme Court Bar Association moves Apex court opposing proposed transfer of COVID-19 issues from HC to SC

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The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has opposed the decision of the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance of COVID-19 related issues which are already pending before various High Courts across the country.

In an impleadment application filed in the suo motu case, the SCBA stated that since there is absence of preparedness in advance for the present situation by the Central and state machinery, “some difficulties are arising at local level and same are being resolved by various High Court in view of the local situation.”

“High Courts appear to be best suited to deal with the situation, hence it would be proper to allow the Hon’ble High Courts to continue dealing with the present issue,” the plea filed by SCBA said.

In this regard, SCBA highlighted that the Supreme Court has consistently held that High Courts’ powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India “is not only vast enough to cover the ambit of Article 32 thereof, rather it’s ambit travel beyond the later.”

The Supreme Court had, on Thursday morning, said that it has registered a suo motu case concerning issues arising out of COVID-19 pandemic and the management of the crisis unfolding in various states.

In this regard, Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde said that the fact that six High Courts were dealing with issues arising out of COVID-19 management was creating confusion and diversion of resources.

“We as a Court wish to take suo motu cognizance of certain issues. We find that there are 6 High Courts – Delhi, Bombay Sikkim, MP, Calcutta and Allahabad. They are exercising jurisdiction in best interest. But it is creating confusion and diversion of resources,” the Court said.

The Court had said that it will consider transferring matters pending before the High Court it itself though it did not pass any such order yet.

Various petitions were filed before different High Courts on COVID-19 related issues and the High Courts have been issuing directions on emergent basis keeping in view the local situation within their territorial jurisdictions, the plea pointed out.

The plea further said that High Courts situated almost invariably in the capital of the States, “are in a better position to seek immediate reports from the local administration and pass directions and orders for immediate removal of difficulties arising in treatment of the infected patients depending upon local emergent situation”.

“The State machinaries are lacking on various aspects and Hon’ble High Courts are suitably dealing with the issues prevailing at local level within their territorial jurisdictions,” the application stated.