The Supreme Court today said it would hear after two weeks a petition which has sought imposition of financial emergency in the country on the ground that economic activities have "come to a standstill" due to the lockdown over coronavirus pandemic.
The plea filed by Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) came up for hearing before a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Abdul Nazeer which observed that the plea could be considered after two weeks.
The top court, which has restricted its functioning to prevent the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19, had last week issued a circular saying that matters which are extremely urgent in nature would be heard through video-conferencing.
During the brief proceedings on Wednesday through video-conferencing, advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for CASC, referred to the status report filed in the top court by the Centre on Tuesday in another matter related to migration of labourers amid 21-day country wide lockdown due to coronavirus.
Mr Gupta, referring to the report, said the Centre had sought a direction to all the states and Union Territories to implement the directives and advisories issued by the central government in "letter and spirit" and the CASC has also made a similar prayer in its plea.
The CASC plea claimed: "Divergence of steps taken by different authorities are causing confusion and lawlessness (which) in no way can be solution to a problem as grave as Covid-19. Due to the lockdown, the economic activities have come to a standstill. Hence, it is most humbly submitted that financial emergency needs to be imposed in the country under Article 360 of the Constitution of India."
It has also sought a direction to the Centre to suspend collection of utility bills like that of electricity, water, gas, telephone, internet and EMI payments during the period of lockdown.
State police and authorities concerned should be directed to strictly comply with the directions of the Union home ministry so that essential services are not disrupted, it added.
It said that prevailing situation in the country due to Covid-19 might be the "biggest emergency" in independent India and it must be addressed as per constitutional provisions through unified command between the Centre and state governments.
"This will be required not only to defeat the war against coronavirus but also in recovery of the Indian economy after lockdown is over. Almost all the fundamental right to freedom of movement, most rights under Article 21 and various other fundamental rights have been practically suspended during this lockdown," it said.