Madhya Pradesh HC Reprimands Executive Authorities for Not Preventing Public Gatherings Amid Pandemic

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court had been apprised about the failure of the executive authorities to prevent mass gatherings. A joint report of amicus curiae corroborated the omission of authorities that violated the Covid-19 protocols. The State was ordered to file a response before the Court adjudicated the matter in the next hearing.

Brief Facts

The State of Madhya Pradesh shall be conducting a by-poll for the vacant seats of the legislative assembly in November. Hence, a political congregation was held in Gwalior which was attended by a large number of people. Therefore, a Petition was filed seeking restrictions on events being organized by political parties in the State. The Plea also cited the Latin maxim- “Be ever so high, the Law is above you” to remind the executive authorities of their functions and duties. 

Therefore, the amicus curiae of the High Court submitted a joint report stating that the event was in breach of the prohibitive Orders issued owing to the pandemic. The Orders of Central Government, State Government and the District Magistrate regulated organization of any such congregations.

Court’s Observations

The Court noted the executive authorities’ omission of duty in adherence to the prohibitive Orders of the Government and the District Magistrate. It observed that any executive instruction demands respect and obedience from the political functionaries and head of the State as much as it is expected from a common man. Further, the Court remarked that if executive authorities failed to prevent gatherings in violation of the Orders, the Court would take necessary actions in interests of the public at large. 

The Court also perused the documents regarding the COVID-19 situation in the State. As an interim measure, it directed the political and State functionaries to restrict public gatherings and abide by the prescribed protocol. Moreover, the Court commented on the submissions made by the Additional Advocate General. The attorney cited recent Supreme Court judgement dismissing a Petition seeking postponement of the Bihar State elections. The Court directed the State to produce the aforesaid Order of the Apex Court. 

Furthermore, it was considered to be appropriate to summon the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of five districts of the State. The Court intended to ascertain the practical difficulties faced by the authorities. It strongly asserted that:

“The Court must be apprised as to whether the failure to ensure strict implementation of the precautionary guidelines is intentional or for reasons beyond the control of the executive authorities.”

Court’s Order

The Order was passed by a Division Bench at Gwalior consisting of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Rajeev Srivastava. It sought response from the State replying to the joint report of the amicus curiaeFurther, it directed the political and State functionaries to regulate congregations which could potentially act as a hotspot to the COVID-19 spread.


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