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Access To Justice As A Fundamental Right During Covid 19

The novel coronavirus also known as Covid-19 has created ravages and wreckage all around the globe. It has affected the world socially, mentally and economically. In March 2020, covid-19 was declared as a pandemic for the world.

In a Pandemic situation like this, most of the things are held at stake but the world can�t keep justice on clutch even in this mayhem. A pandemic situation or any other disability should not encumber any person to access justice.

In the emergency of 1975-1977, almost 100,000 people were arrested under the preventive detention law, 10 courts held that even during the emergency period (when the fundamental rights were also suspended), Habeaus corpus petitions filed would still was supposed to be heard in the court of law.

On 23rd march, 2020, Supreme court of India passed the limitation act which said that the time period will be extended for the lawyers/petitioners to file applications/suits/appeals or petitions, however no time period was mentioned by the Supreme court. The SC also passed a conundrum stating that it is also applicable on the section 167 of Cr.P.C. which provides the time period for legal remand of a person and providing statutory bail after not more than 90 days. Therefore, denying the right of statutory bail too, to the arrested person.

In Madras High Court, in the case of Settu Vs the state, the court granted bail to the accused stating that the Supreme Court did not mention the time extended to complete the investigation under section 167 of Cr,P.C. Therefore, the accused was given the rightful bail, however in the same court, in the case of S. Kasi vs State, it was found that the agency was unable to complete the investigation because of the guidelines of the lockdown and bail was not granted.

This contradiction was then taken to the larger bench of High Court. Access to justice is a right of every individual and a contradiction in the judgements due to the pandemic cannot come in the way of justice being served. In the landmark judgement of Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India, it is stated that no one can be deprived of his rights and liberty by any executive action unsupported by law.

However, remote systems and daily wage workers were also given justice in this pandemic. Supreme court after the PIL of activists Harsh Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj which wanted enforcement of fundamental right to life under article 21 of the Indian Constitution for migrant workers and payment of wages to them as they have been left out because of the lockdown. The Supreme Court hence asked the centre and state to provide daily an assured payment of minimum wages to all the migrant and daily wage workers who are suffering in the nationwide lockdown.

Another incident of Chennai, where a doctor got infected and could not survive the battle of covid-19 was found to be buried at a usual place where his wife didn�t want to. The people protested against the cremation ceremony and the doctor was not given an honourable cremation. Wife of the deceased doctor filed a complaint seeking remedy against right to have an honourable cremation.

Justice Khanna reminded the court of the famous defence of Lord Atkins on a similar issue that arose in England during World War II, in Liversidge v Anderson that, �amidst the clash of arms the laws are not silent� and that executive action would, even during an emergency, be tested on the anvil of constitutional and legal rights of the people.

This article aims on the access to justice as a fundamental right during covid-19 which says that justice can�t be denied to anyone, anywhere and anytime. Every person is entitled to liberty, equality, fraternity and justice even in an emergency or situation of pandemic.

This article also focuses on how government provided justice to the different sections of the society.

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