SC declines to hear PIL against opening of SAIL, NBCC amid lockdown

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New Delhi, –  The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a PIL claiming “illegal opening” of certain offices, during the nationwide lockdown, by Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) such as SAIL, NBCC etc by ‘wrongly identifying and equating themselves as government department/offices’.The petition submitted these companies “have issued orders directing their employees to step out of their houses and attend office and resume their duties during the lockdown period w.e.f. April 20, in abject and manifest violation of the statutory order and regulatory guidelines issued by the Central Government declaring country wide lockdown”.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and B.R. Gavai, who took up the matter through video conferencing, said the court was not inclined to entertain the matter and dismissed the PIL.The plea was moved in the apex court through advocate Anil K Aggarwal. The petitioner contended the plea is in larger public interest raising grave issues and concerns of health and safety of lives of the people.It contended that during the lockdown period, unexempted central PSEs/government owned companies such as SAILAand NBCC dealing in non-essential goods and services opening up of their offices and resumption of operation was illegal and affected public health amid the Covid-19 induvced lockdown.

The plea sought directions to the Centre to find out PSEs/companies, involved in manufacturing, distribution, supply or sale of non-essential and unexempted goods and services that opened their offices and operations, during lockdown period, and initiate disciplinary action against CMDs and Board of Directors of all such PSEs/companies.The petitioner contended that these companies have wrongly identified and equated themselves as government department/office under the control of Ministries and/or Departments of the central government, overlooking the health safety concerns of the employees and their family members.

The petition argued the direction passed by these companies are against the restrictions on movement and preventive measures taken by the central government or government of NCT of Delhi to somehow contain the spread of deadly COVID-19 infection.The nation-wide lockdown that entered its third phase on May 4, had begun on March 24, to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed 1,886 lives in India and has till date recorded 56,324 cases since January 29.

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