The Karnataka High Court, while going through PIL petitions with regard to issues from COVID-19 pandemic on June 25, gave directions to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to strictly ensure the supply of essential goods and services to the people residing in containment zones. According to BBMP, there 400 containment zones.
The Karnataka High Court, special Division Bench comprised of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna. The issue raised was that the people residing in slums are unable to join work or take up jobs and hence are finding it difficult to get food. Pointing out the fact, the Bench noted, from the SOPs and the circulars issued by the state on April 17, the local administration will have to ensure supply of essentials to the residents of the containment zones.
According to the circular dated April 17, the containment zones would be completely locked down and no movement of people outside the houses will be allowed even for basic essentials. Therefore, in the 400 containment zones, it is the obligation of the BBMP to ensure the supply of essentials to the people residing in these zones.
Moreover, the circular states that the supply of ration by fair price shops at the doorstep of the ration cardholders would also need to be undertaken by the authorities. However, the BBMP counsel said that the civic body has no scheme for providing free food packets /ration kits. On this, the Bench stated that any failure of the civic body to comply with the government orders and the SOPs would amount to a violation of fundamental rights of citizens under the Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In addition, the Bench said, also the ward committees set up as per the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act have to be proactive in ensuring uninterrupted supply of essentials to the citizens, and availability of health services to those in need.
Further, the Bench also asked the civic body to inform the court the machinery it has set up for citizens in the containment zones to lodge grievances as the citizens are not allowed to come out of their houses.