You can’t have a lockdown of people, and a lockout of the economy. We’re not criticising, we’re only saying it’s time to rethink : Kapil Sibal

Excerpts of the Congress Party briefing by @KapilSibal via video conferencing :

  • Just as other services are essential services, delivery of justice is an essential service. This is very important because every day somebody or the other needs a judge in an urgent matter to decide his case at district level, state level, high court level, SC level.
  • I don’t see any policy from the judiciary that, being an essential service we have a plan to ensure that people who need urgent relief, get it.
  • Platforms that have had greatest benefit from our open door policy are our digital platforms, they are making enormous profits, like amazon, even Paytm is controlled by Alibaba. While you talk about make in India, fact of the matter is that most of it is made outside.
  • Even our pharmaceutical ingredients, we are importing them from China. While the PM says we must be self reliant, the govt must come up with a policy under which this can be taken forward.
  • You can’t have a lockdown of people, and a lockout of the economy. That’s not the way to formulate policy. We’re not criticising, we’re only saying it’s time to rethink, we’ll support the Govt in every possible way.
  • There is a section 6(2)(b) in Disaster Management Act 2005 that says, the national authority may approve the national plan while section 10 (2) states, the National Executive Committee prepares the national plan to be approved by the national authority.
  • I want to ask, where is that national plan? Why were detailed plans not made? On March 24, PM announced a national lockdown, we are in the fourth week of April. We must come up with a national plan immediately.
  • Section 72 says that the provisions of this act will override all other acts. section 11 says there shall be a plan drawn up for national disaster for the whole country.
  • Section 12 says, “recommend guidelines for minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster, which shall include minimum requirements to be provided in relief camps in relation to shelter, food, drinking water, medical cover and sanitation.
  • It is unfortunate that even till date, minimum standards have not been laid down. Union government have chosen to shift the onus to state governments but the state govts have no funds.
  • Section 46 talks of a National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). This fund, apart from amounts appropriated by parliament by law, can also receive grants “made by any person or institution for the purpose of disaster management”.
  • This response fund is to be made available to the NEC towards meeting expenses “for emergency response relief and rehabilitation” in accordance with the guidelines of the Union in consultation with the NDMA.
  • It is ironic that instead of using the provisions of the Act for grant of relief, the Prime Minister has set up a “Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance Relief in Emergency Situations” (PM-CARES) fund asking people to generously donate into that fund.
  • That is precisely the money that is to go to the NDRF for relief and rehabilitation of those affected by the lockdown. It is understood that a sum of Rs 6,500 crore has already been received into PM-CARES.
  • It is our constructive suggestion that the Prime Minister and the government shed light on this issue, why this has not been done.

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