New Delhi, March 26: A public interest litigation was filed in Supreme Court on Thursday seeking declaration of financial emergency in light of the nationwide lockdown amidst rising cases of COVID-19.

The PIL by Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) filed against Ministry of Home Affairs seeks the imposition of financial emergency under Article 360 of the Constitution of India as it submits that unified commands by the Centre and state can address this issue more efficiently. The petitioner claim that difference in the order imposed by various states and the centre is creating confusion and state of lawlessness in an already difficult situation.

As per the petitioner, after the 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 different states and police authorities took independent action under the Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the guise of orders issued by the central government which “amounts to constitutional fraud”.

“This use of emergency provisions of Constitution is required not only to defeat the war against coronavirus but also in recovery of the Indian economy after lockdown is over,” the petition states.

CASC has also sought directions from the apex court for government to provide necessary directions for suspension of collection of utility bills (electricity, water, gas, telephone, internet) and EMI payments liable to be paid during lockdown.

Directions have also bee sought for the state police and local authorities to strictly comply with home ministry instructions so that essential services are not disrupted.

The petition filed through advocate Virag Gupta has made a request for urgent hearing through video-conferencing by the top court.

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