In a notable development, the Patna High Court urged the State Government; to reconsider its policy of not engaging with members of civil society in handling the COVID-19 crisis. The bench observed, “in a democratic society the Civil Society cannot be ignored, more so in the times of disaster“. The division bench comprised of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Ms. Parul Prasad (AOR) assisted by her research associate Akshat Agrawal. The PIL challenged the refusal of District Magistrates to allow civil society organizations and NGO’s to help and supplement relief mechanisms for the needy people. Henceforth, the Court directed Principal Secretary, Disaster Management Department, Government of Bihar to file his personal affidavit; on all the issues highlighted before the next date.
On May 19, 2020, the Patna High Court, while hearing this petition, directed the state government to reconsider this issue on a priority basis. The court heard another petition filed by Advocate Rajiv Ranjan regarding the status of quarantine centres on May 19. Moreover, in the petition filed by Ranjan, the bench directed the Principal Secretary to indicate the mechanism and procedure evolved; right from the point of identification of persons intending to return to Bihar up to the point of their housing at the Centres.