EMIs put on hold : big-bang interest rate cut as RBI joins fight against coronavirus.

The RBI on Friday put on hold EMI payments on all term loans for three months and cut interest rate by steepest in more than 11 years as it joined the government effort to rescue a slowing economy that has now got caught in coronavirus whirlwind.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut repo to 4.4 per cent, the lowest in at least 15 years. Also, it reduced the cash reserve ratio maintained by the banks for the first time in over seven years. CRR for all banks was cut by 100 basis points to release Rs 1.37 lakh crore across banking system.

The reverse repo rate was cut by 90 bps to 4 per cent, creating an asymmetrical corridor.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das predicted a big global recession and said India will not be immune.

It all depends how India responds to the situation, he said.

Global slowdown could make things difficult for India too, despite some help from falling crude prices, Das said, adding food prices may soften even further on record crop production.

Aggregate demand may weaken and ease core inflation further, he noted.

The liquidity measures announced include auction of targeted long-term repo operation of 3 year tenor for total amount of Rs 1 lakh crore at floating rate and accommodation under Marginal Standing Facility to be increased from 2 per cent to 3 per cent of Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) with immediate effect till June 30.

Combined, these three measures will make available a total Rs 3,74,000 crore to the country’s financial system.

After cutting policy rates five times in 2019, the RBI had been on a pause since December in view of high inflation.

The measures announced come a day after the government unveiled a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package of free foodgrains and cash doles to the poor to deal with the economic impact of the unprecedented 21-day nationwide lockdown.

While the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the RBI originally was slated to meet in the first week of April, it was advanced by a week to meet the challenge of coronavirus.

PM seeks nation’s forgiveness for tough decisions and says India will surely defeat coronavirus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought the nation’s forgiveness for imposing a monumental lockdown on the country, but said “we have to win … and we will definitely win the battle” against the unprecedented menace of coronavirus that has claimed 25 lives in India so far.

In his monthly Mann ki Baat radio address to the nation, Modi also praised the front-line workers in the fight against the virus as well as countless workers in the essential services who are ensuring the country doesn’t come to a complete standstill in the 21-day lockdown announced on March 24.

“I seek forgiveness .. I am sure you will forgive me that you had to undergo so much trouble. Some people will say what kind of prime minister is this but these are special circumstances. You had to undergo problems I understand but there is no other way out to fight the coronavirus,” he said. “But this is a battle for life and death.”

“Coronavirus is bent on killing people therefore entire humanity must unite and resolve to eliminate it,” he said in the address that lasted more than 30 minutes and featured two former coronavirus patients and a doctor.

Modi reminded people that “we have to maintain social distance, not emotional and human distance” as he urged people to utilise the time spent at home in re-engaging themselves in old hobbies an reconnecting wit old friends.

SCBA mulls BCI plea to help financially-troubled lawyers in wake of COVID-19.

A day after the Bar Council of India urged the Prime Minister and states to help the financially stressed lawyers in wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Ashok Arora has sought views of the members of the Association on extending financial help for such lawyers.

The contributions thus collected are proposed to be diverted towards the beneficiaries. This could be done without revealing the beneficiary’s identity so as to not hurt anyone’s dignity, Arora said in the message he put out for the SCBA members.

“The BCI would like to make a fervent and urgent request to your good selves to kindly make a provision for providing a minimum subsistence allowance of Rs 20,000 per month for young and not financially well-off advocates, who are staying and practising in the country,” BCI said in a letter addressed to the senior leaders.

Arora has proposed that money can also be collected from senior advocates and as well as from the SCBA funds for this purpose and the recipients names shall be kept confidential.

While this is only a proposal at the moment, Arora has sought the opinion of the members of the SCBA Executive Committee as well as from other members of the Association.

Due to restricted functioning of courts, earning opportunities have ceased for lawyers, who it said earn and live by the day or earnings of the week.

Since the advocate fraternity has no social security benefits and if at all any unforeseeable situation presents itself, many advocates as well as their families would face  difficulties, it added. The top court has been functioning on restricted terms since March 16, to decongest the court and thereby minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus. On March 23, the restricted functioning was further thinned down to skeletal staff required to only hear matters of extreme urgency via video conferencing.

Police takes responsibility of delivering food at every doorstep in West Bengal.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that there is a need to ensure that there is no scarcity of food in the wake of coronavirus lockdown.

On Monday, Banerjee had said that her administration is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that citizens are safe from coronavirus.

“The West Bengal Government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure safety & precautions for its citizens in combating COVID-19 efficiently. At this critical juncture, it is only collective efforts & public cooperation which can help fight this menace,” the chief minister had tweeted out.

Banerjee said that for this purpose, all Police stations will take the responsibility to deliver food at doorsteps and the same will be monitored by the District Magistrates and Police Superintendents.

“Please don’t crowd markets, maintain social distance. And please cover your face with something before going outdoors,” Banerjee told media persons on Tuesday.

She said there were adequate supplies in the market, and so there is no need to store anything.

“It is my sincere request to all the fellow citizens to abide by Government guidelines. Until and unless an emergency, please don’t step out of your homes. We will fight this together. Only we can help keep everyone around us safe,” her tweet read.

More than 1,000 people were arrested in Kolkata since Monday evening for violating the lockdown, officials said. Of the nine afflicted with coronavirus in the state, one has died.

Coronavirus: HC directs MEA to ensure safety of 300 Indian students stranded in Kazakhstan.

The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to ensure welfare and safety of around 300 Indian students stranded at Almaty Airport in Kazakhstan for the past 2-3 days without food and medical aid due to coronavirus pandemic.

A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh, which conducted the hearing through video conferencing, asked the authorities to expeditiously provide the students basic amenities and assistance with regard to food, medical care, lodging and transportation.

The hearing was conducted through video conferencing. The two judges joined from their homes while advocate Fozia Rahman, who appeared for the petitioner, and central government standing counsel Jasmeet Singh, who represented the MEA, were at their offices.

Rahman informed the court that 300 Indian students, who are enrolled for higher studies, including MBBS, at Semey Medical University in Kazakhstan are stranded at the Almaty Airport without food, water, transportation and medical aid.

The petition was filed by Sehla Saira, mother of one of the stranded students.

The court issued notice to the Centre through MEA and granted time to file response to the petition.

“Let this bench be apprised of the brief response/reply on March 28,” the court said in its three-page order,” it said.

“In the meantime…in view of the unsettled and difficult situation — emerging from the global COVID-19 pandemic — in which Indian students find themselves stranded at the Almaty Airport, Kazakhstan, we find it incumbent upon us to direct the Ministry of External Affairs, government of India, to promptly appoint a nodal officer from the Indian Embassy in Kazakhstan to ensure, inter alia, the welfare, well-being and safety of all such Indian students,” the bench said.

It also directed the nodal officer to expeditiously facilitate, secure and provide these students will all basic amenities and humanitarian assistance.

The court said the details of the nodal officer, including his name and telephone number, be communicated to the Indian students stranded at the Almaty Airport and be also uploaded on website of Indian Embassy at Kazakhstan and on the website of MEA immediately.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on March 28.

Delhi High Court Lawyers Chambers to be closed till 31st March after Supreme Court.

After Supreme Court decided to seal its lawyers chamber, the Delhi High Court has also decided to close the lawyers chamber blocks from 6 PM today i.e 23rd March till 31st March. After which the conditions will be reassessed.

The Delhi HC Bar Association has sought utmost cooperation of the lawyers as steps are being taken  in the interest of safety of the lawyers.

Coronavirus : Will grant special parole and furlough to convicts to decongest prisons.

The city govt told the Delhi HC on Monday that it has decided to decongest capital’s prisons by providing convicts with the options of special parole & furlough to contain the spread of coronavirus.

A Bench of Justices Hima Kohli & Subramonium Prasad, taking note of the submission, directed the Delhi govt to take the necessary steps during the day to implement the measures.

The Delhi govt submitted that it will amend its prison rules to provide the options of special parole & furlough. It said a notification would be issued within a day to amend the prison rules to include the new provisions.

The govt’s submission came while responding to a plea moved by two lawyers seeking decongesting of the prisons in view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A separate petition on the issue has also been moved before the HC seeking direction to the city govt & the Prison authorities to immediately provide face-masks & hand sanitizers to all the inmates in Tihar Jail & other prisons in Delhi.

The petition filed by advocate Vikas Padora has also sought direction to spray disinfectants or quarantine the premises of jails. Mr. Padora also sought to set up isolation wards in the jail premises where the infected inmate or inmate having symptoms can be lodged safely.

It has urged the court to give directions so that the spread of coronavirus can be contained as much as possible in the jails across India.

“As per the data available on the website Tihar Jail, there is capacity of 5,200 inmates, whereas at present there are more than 12,100 inmates lodged in Tihar Jail itself, which clearly shows that the prison Tihar Jail is excessively overcrowded & functioning beyond its capacity,” the petition said.

“The same is the situation with most of the Jails in India,” advocate Padora added, whose petition is likely to be heard this week.

Punjab & Haryana High Court admonishes Judge and orders examination of his conduct.

“God have mercy on the litigants that appear in his court,” the Punjab & Haryana HC asserted while admonishing a judge belonging to subordinate judiciary. The High Court also directed its Registrar-General to get his conduct examined on the administrative side & never to post him in a “Family Court” again as he appeared to lack “judicial temperament & the desired approach”.

Describing his orders as terrifying & nasty, the Bench added it was notorious in its unlawful consequences.

The damning judicial indictment came on a petition filed by an ex-husband challenging two orders dated Oct 4, 2019, & Nov 29, 2019, passed by the Ludhiana Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, vide which warrants of imprisonment were issued in execution proceedings for recovery of maintenance.

The court was told a notice wasn’t served on the petitioner, yet warrants of imprisonment were issued twice. “Had he not approached this court, he would have been called an ex-jailbird,” Justice Raina said.

The Bench said the “Family Court” acting under the Hindu Marriage Act wasn’t exercising the powers of a Magistrate, who under Section 125 (3), CrPC, could order imprisonment for a month in default of payment of maintenance. “The question of putting the defaulter in prison, to be sent in the proverbial handcuffs, doesn’t arise in the present proceedings in enforcement of arrears of maintenance by the ex-wife.”

Justice Raina made it clear no man could be proceeded against & sent to the civil jail straightaway for recovery of debt without due service of notice & show cause.

230 lawyers cleared the Examination of AoR.

The results of the Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record (AoR) Examination conducted in June 2019 have been declared.

As per the list published, 230 advocates have cleared the examination, whereas 92 advocates have been listed as eligible to re-appear.

AOR_Exam___June_2019___Result   Click to see the  result list

Number of COVID-19 cases rises to 415 in India: Health Ministry

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country surged to 415, a spike from the 360 figure the night before, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

The figure includes 41 foreign nationals and seven deaths.

Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra reported a death each on Sunday. Four fatalities were reported earlier from Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab, the ministry said.

The 415 figure also includes 24 people who have been cured, discharged or migrated, it said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said 18,383 samples have been tested till 10 am on Monday.

It was not immediately clear where the new cases have come from.

The total number of positive novel coronavirus cases includes 67 in Maharashtra, including three foreigners, and Kerala also at 67, with seven foreign nationals, data issued by the ministry showed.

Till Monday morning, Delhi had reported 29 positive cases, including a foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh recorded 28, also including a foreigner, it added. Rajasthan reported 27 cases, of which two are foreigners. Telangana reported 26 cases, including 11 foreigners. Karnataka has 26 coronavirus patients, the ministry said.

Cases have been reported from across the country, including from Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand.