STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: A Division Bench of J&K High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sindhu Sharma on Tuesday directed authorities of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh to enforce their notifications/instructions/orders regarding all disclosures including the travel history; quarantining and isolation stringently. All authorities of the Union Territories shall take strict measures to ensure that all requirements are strictly enforced. DB further said that violation of any Government notification or breach thereof should be strictly dealt with in accordance with law. When the PIL came-up for hearing, the Division Bench observed that pursuant to earlier order, CGM BSNL is present and Advocate Ravinder Gupta appearing for the BSNL handed over a compliance report dated March 24, 2020, which is taken on record. “In the report, it was mentioned that according to the BSNL, provision of video-conferencing through lease lines between the two Juvenile Justice Boards is the optimal solution. On this aspect, for want of approval of the financial estimates conveyed to the ICPS, this matter was not proceeded further. The estimates were conveyed to the Social Welfare Department vide communication dated 15th November, 2018. It cannot be denied that the BSNL would be the expert agency, whose opinion would bind the consideration by the authorities. It is also common knowledge that dependence on broadband connectivity for video-conferencing is not an optimal solution and the same is often jeopardised on account of connectivity issues”, the court observed. “It was stated in the report that the Social Welfare Department, J&K has adopted the lesser potential media, i.e., Broadband connectivity, which being a shared media through LAN (Local Area Network) / WiFi connectivity might not support the high density Video conferencing. Such constraints were brought to the notice of the concerned authorities in the joint meetings held time & again. There can be no manner of doubt that the Social Welfare Department has to ensure lease line connectivity between the Observation Homes and the Juvenile Justice Boards at the earliest”, the court observed. CGM BSNL Ashok Kumar Srivastava informed Division Bench that he will re-examine the estimate which was submitted on 15th November, 2018, and submit the fresh estimates to the Mission Director, ICPS within two days from today. Upon this, DB directed that the same should be done and would be examined at the earliest. “There may be difficulty in the installation of the lease lines so far as Juvenile Justice Boards are concerned for the reason that they are presently housed in rented accommodation. These are institutions which need to have permanent location, the DB observed and directed the ICPS to examine the issue with regard to making available the permanent accommodation for Juvenile Justice Boards and file status report in this aspect. DB further directed that in the meantime, the ICPS shall ensure sufficient power back-up at the existing Juvenile Justice Boards as well as Observation Homes, so that the temporary availability of the video-conferencing through the broadband which has been made available is properly operationalized. DB further observed that given the necessity of enforcing social distancing and prevention/minimization of close contact between people, in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, several steps stand initiated in the Courts amongst which, conducting of remand work of prisoners through video conferencing is receiving priority. In view thereof, by our order dated 20th March, 2020, we had called upon the BSNL also to inform us with regard to the status report regarding the connectivity between the Courts and prisons, it observed. DB directed the BSNL to ensure that its claim of having commissioned the sites is verified. “Every effort shall be made to operationalize the facilities in all the Courts within the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh at the earliest possible. We also direct Ashok Kumar Srivastava to appoint a nodal officer not below the rank of Deputy General Manager, whose responsibility will be to coordinate with Shahzad Azeem and NIC and ensure that all the sites are operationalized”, the court observed. DB took serious view of the incorrect information which has been furnished in the Compliance Report dated 24th March, 2020, which has been filed by the Chief General Manager, BSNL. “It is only in keeping with the current emergent situation, that we are refraining from doing so and giving one opportunity to complete the task. We expect the BSNL to apply itself to the issues in all earnestness and ensure the connectivity at the earliest”, it observed. DB further directed Registrar IT Shahzad Azeem to hand over the list of 84 sites and their present status. The same has been received by Ashok Kumar Srivastava who shall examine the same and take urgent steps in the matter. DB also examined the Status Report dated 24th March, 2020 from the department of Social Welfare Department, which has been submitted by Shailendra Kumar, Principal Secretary to Government, Social Welfare Department. We are informed that Committees have been constituted at the administrative level and steps taken for regular observation and monitoring of Old Age Homes, Observation Homes, Nari Niketan, Bal Ashram, Orphanage, Blind schools and other such institutions, the court observed. DB directed that the Department of Social Welfare shall continue to ensure that the best possible care is given to all these institutions as well. As informed in the status report of the Social Welfare Department, urgent steps be taken to obtain the protective gear for all the workers who are involved in the various activities of the department. A Status report dated 24th March, 2020 has also been received from Atal Dulloo, Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department as well, placing on record several steps which are under way to address the spread of the infection in the Union Territory. AAG Amit Gupta informed Division Bench that steps with regard to slums are being taken and sought time to file status report specifically addressing the needs of the slums and homeless people. Amit Gupta, AAG also submitted that the report on behalf of the Director General (Prisons) is ready and shall be filed within three days. Upon this, Division Bench directed to file the same within three days. ASGI Vishal Sharma appearing for the Union Territories of Ladakh, sought leave to place the report which has been received by him on e-mail before the court. Let the same be indexed and paginated and filed before court, the DB observed. ASGI Vishal Sharma also informed that all necessary orders have been issued for prevention of spread of COVID-19 in the Union Territory of Ladakh. ” No commercial flight landing at the KBR Airport is permitted to bring in any inbound passengers to Leh, other than residents of Ladakh, civilian officers and officers of the Union Forces serving in Ladakh or on duty in Ladakh. All necessary steps for ensuring social distancing in all institutions including religious places as monasteries etc. stand taken”, he submitted. During the course of hearing, Adv Monika Kohli, Amicus Curiae has submitted that there is dire need of continuous availability of water in order to ensure the hygiene which is required for prevention of the infection during the quarantine and pointed out that the Public Health Engineering Department is responsible for the maintenance of the roster for water supplies in Union Territory. She submitted that this roster is extremely unequal and disproportionate to the requirement of the colonies and requires to be rationalized. DB directed the Secretary PHE to look into the water supply roster and ensure an equitable distribution of water to all residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Similar examination may be undertaken in the Union Territory of Ladakh as well, it observed. Keeping in view the issues regarding Courts, JJBs and Observation Homes which are under consideration, DB directed that the presence of State Informatics Officer of the NIC, Jammu and Kashmir to remain present in Court on the next date and also directed CGM BSNL to remain present.
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