Covid-19 and The Suo Moto Cognizance by Indian Courts


Knowledge of Suo Moto is a Latin term for measures taken by a government agency, court, or other central authority on their apprehension. The court accepts Suo Moto Cognizance on legal issues if they have been informed of a violation of rights or obligations through the media or if they have been notified by a third party. In India, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution establish the appropriate provisions for bringing cases of public interest as Public Interest Litigation in India to the Supreme Court and High court respectively. Suo Moto actions in Indian courts reflect the activeness of the judges and have attracted the public with speedy court decisions. In India, Suo Moto is usually tried in the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that the Indian judiciary has been at the helm of democracy in recent years.

Contagion of Covid-19 Virus in Prisons         

On 11.03.2020, the world health organization declared Covid-19 as a pandemic. On 16.03.2020, 107 people tested positive for Covid-19 in our country. Expecting the spread of Covid-19 virus in overcrowded prisons, notices had been issued to all the chief Secretaries, directors, domestic Secretaries, Director Generals of Prisons and Departments of Social Welfare of all the States and Union Territories seeking their response concerning on the spot measures to be followed for the welfare of Inmates in prisons and juveniles lodged in remand houses. In the present situation, there’s a Critical problem concerning the unfolding of Covid-19 in overcrowded Prisons wherein there’s no right sanitation, hygiene, and medical facilities. The count additionally noticed that India has more than 4 lakh prison Inmates. It is found that some of the prisons in India are over burdened and are housing inmates beyond the most desirable ability. And issued judgment as:-

  1. As a primary degree, this court, being the sentinel at the revive of the essential rights, needs to strictly manipulate and limit the government from arresting accused in contravention Of recommendations laid down by this Court in Arnesh Kumar v. the State of Bihar at some point of the pandemic.
  2. Second, the rapid proliferation of the virus amongst the Inmates of congested prisons is an issue of serious concern. The high-Powered Committees constituted through the country Governments/Union Territories shall take into account launch of prisoners utilizing adopting the hints (together with inter alia, SOP laid down with the aid of NALSA) followed with the aid of them closing 12 months, on the Earliest. Such States which have not constituted excessive Powered Committees remaining 12 months are directed to accomplish that without delay. Commissioner of Police Delhi shall additionally be a Member of the high-Powered Committee, Delhi.
  3. Third, because of the on-the-spot subject of the raging pandemic, this court has to address the problem of de-congestion.
  4. Fourth, further, we direct that the one\’s inmates who were granted parole, under our in advance orders, should be again granted parole for 90 days if you want to tide over the pandemic.
  5. Fifth, the combat towards the pandemic is substantially benefited through transparent management. In this regard, our attention turned into Interested in the instance of Delhi, wherein the jail occupancy is up to date on websites. Such measures are required to be considered with the aid of different States and have to be adopted as right practice. Furthermore, all the choices of excessive-Powered committees need to be posted on respective State prison Carrier government/nation governments/high Courts websites to enable effective dissemination of data.

In recognizance for extension of limitation

Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the court took Suo Motu consciousness of the scenario bobbing up from problems that are probably confronted by using the litigants across the country. In Submitting petitions/packages/fits/appeals/all different lawsuits inside the length of issue prescribed under the general law of limitation or below any special laws (either central or state).  By using an order dated 23.03.2020 this court Prolonged the period of drawback prescribed beneath the general or special laws whether compoundable or not with impact from 15.03.2020 until further orders.

The order Dated 23.03.2020 became prolonged every so often. Though we’ve got now not seen the cease of the pandemic, there is massive development. The lockdown has been lifted and the country is returning to normalcy. Nearly all the Courts and tribunals are functioning either bodily or by way of virtual mode. We believe that the order dated 23.03.2020 has served its cause and given the changing state of affairs relating to the pandemic, the extension of trouble needs to come to an end.

The Court issued the following guideline:-

  • In computing, the duration of a dilemma for any match, attraction, application, or proceeding, the period from 15.03.2020 till 14.03.2021 shall stand excluded. Therefore, the stability period of drawback closing as of 15.03.2020, if any, shall become to be had with effect from 15.03.2021.
  • In cases in which the hassle could have expired prescribed below Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, section 12A Of the commercial Courts Act, 2015 and provisos (b) and (c) of section 138 of the Negotiable instrument  Act, 1881 and some other laws, which Prescribe duration(s) of a drawback for instituting Court cases, outer limits (inside which the court Or tribunal can condone postpone) and termination of Proceedings.
  • At some point of the length between 15.03.2020 until 14.03.2021, notwithstanding the real balance length of trouble ultimate, all individuals shall have a problem length of 90 days from 15.03.2021. Within the event, the actual balance period of the quandary last, with effect from 15.03.2021, is more than 90 days, that longer length shall practice.
  • The authorities of India shall amend the Hints for containment zones, to state.  “Regulated movement could be allowed for clinical emergencies, provision of crucial Items and offerings, and other important functions, such as time-bound applications, Along with for criminal functions, and academic And process-associated necessities.
  • The Suo Motu Writ Petition is disposed of hence.

IN RE: Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services during Pandemic

The genesis of this Suo Motu writ petition is in an order dated 22 April 2021. This court took note of the remarkable humanitarian disaster in the country following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notices were issued To the Union of India, the Governments of the States and Union Territories, and to numerous petitioners who have been before the High Courts.

The applicable extract of the order reads thus:

  • Supply of oxygen – The court has to be apprised by the  Union of India on:
    • (a) The projected call for oxygen in the country of an on the Present factor of time and in the foreseeable future;
    • (b) The steps taken and proposed to augment the provision of oxygen, meeting both the contemporary and projected Necessities;
  • Enhancement of vital clinical infrastructure, along with the availability of beds, Covid treatment centres with duly Ready scientific personnel on the premise of the projected Requirement of healthcare professionals and expected Necessities
  • The steps have taken to make sure due availability of critical capsules, consisting of remdesivir and favipiravir among other Pharmaceuticals and the modalities that have been set up For controlling prices of important pills, for stopping hoarding and for making sure proper communication.
  • Vaccination:
    • (a) Currently, two vaccinations have been made to be had in the country specifically, Covishield and Covaxin;
    • (b) As of date, the vaccination programme has prolonged to all Citizens of the age of 45 years and above;
    • (c) From 1 May additionally 2021, the vaccination programme is to be unfolded also to people among the age group of 18 to 45, further to the prevailing age organization classes.


 The Indian courts have taken Suo Moto in the following times:

  • Contempt of court: Contempt of court means disobedience closer to the court and ignorance of rules and rules, code of conduct and ethics observed in a court. The court commonly initiates a case for Suo Motu contempt towards an officer who prevents the transport of justice or challenges the respect of the court.
  • Reopening old cases:  If a few new and full-size pieces of evidence is located after a case is closed, the courts have the power to take the Suo Moto motion and reopen the case to try it again.
  • Order probe for a new Case:  If any court believes that some injustice is being carried out to an aggrieved individual or a section of human beings, the court can order a probe at any degree utilizing any government authority, police branch, the CBI, and many others. The court may additionally take such a motion after receiving a letter from the affected section of human beings or on the idea of any news, documentary, or media source.

The Suo Moto has its genesis inside the concept of “Epistolary Jurisdiction”, which emerged in the late 1970s through judicial activism as a good way to make the judicial system handier to negative, socially, and economically disadvantaged sections of the Society. Suo Moto cases are instances in which the supreme Courts and the High court of India the use of their inherent powers provoke a hearing by taking awareness of any to be counted on its very own, without anybody filing any appeal or writ petition.

Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution permit the High courtroom and Supreme Court respectively to question any instructions to do or chorus to do an act. Using distinctive features of these two Articles and also the emergence of Public Interest Litigation has allowed these Courts to take Suo Moto cases. The motive for such moves also attracts upon the desire of the courts to broaden the reach of justice to individuals who may not be capable of getting the right of entry to the court.

This article is authored by Deva Dharshini K, Student at Dr. Ambedkar Govt Law College, Chennai.

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