PIL against making LG chairman of DDMA; seeks to quashing of his decisions

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with LG Anil Baijal
A plea in the Delhi High Court has challenged the Lieutenant Governor's powers as the chairperson of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). It sought quashing of his decision to set aside the AAP government's order to hospitals to treat only bona fide residents of the national capital.

The petition contended that the LG as DDMA chairperson exceeded his jurisdiction by allowing residents of other states to use the resources of the national capital.

The plea, by advocate Dheeraj Kumar Singh, claimed that LG Anil Baijal's June 8 order setting aside Delhi government's June 7 direction to hospitals here, to treat only bona fide residents of the national capital, was in contravention of the provisions of the Disaster Management Act (DMA), 2005.

It sought to quash of the provision in the DMA under which the LG has been made the head of the DDMA, saying that in other states and Union Territories the chief minister heads such a body.

The petition contends that there cannot be such a "discrimination" between two similarly placed UTs.

It further stated that a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had held that the LG of Delhi is bound by aid and advice of the Council of Ministers on all matters on which the Legislative Assembly has the power to make laws.

It said the apex court also held that the LG must be informed of decisions of the Council of Ministers, but his concurrence is not necessary in matters where Delhi assembly can make laws.

"Therefore, the order passed by the Delhi government on June 7 shall prevail upon notification/order issued by the chairperson of DDMA on June 8," the petition claims.

It also stated that according to provisions of the DMA, the state disaster management authority has to lay down guidelines for providing relief to persons affected by a disaster and the quantum of relief cannot be less than the minimum standard laid down by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Therefore, DDMA was under "legal compulsion" to provide minimum relief, like shelter, food, drinking water, medical cover, sanitation and ex-gratia on account of the loss of life or livelihood, during any disaster, including the coronavirus outbreak.

However, no such relief work has been initiated by DDMA till filing of the petition despite thousands of people dying due to COVID-19, Singh claimed.

His petition seeks a direction to DDMA to put in place a 'state plan' in terms of the DMA 2005 and also place it before the court.

Besides that, it seeks to set up a committee to look into steps taken by DDMA and ascertain whether it was acting as per DMA.

The plea also seeks directions to DDMA to provide relief like the medical cover and ex-gratia for loss of life or livelihood, as well as free or affordable treatment for Delhi residents and to take control of errant hospitals who are "acting in an unethical manner by fleecing patients for treatment of coronavirus infection".

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