New Delhi, May 17 : The All India Bar Association on Sunday urged the Modi government to promulgate an Ordinance, so as to amend the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) and sue China in the Court of Law for the damages caused by Novel Coronavirus. The Association requested the Centre to amend the Code, paving way for filing of suits against China to claim exemplary damages for allegedly not controlling the deadly virus and also for suppression of information about the same, which led to its worldwide spread, claiming more than three lakh lives across the globe.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AIBA Chairman and senior advocate Adish C Aggarwala requested the Centre to amend the outdated Section 86 in CPC, 1908 forthwith, so that the citizens of the country could sue the Government of China in the Indian courts to recover the losses caused due to COVID-19 and especially for each of the 20 lakh lawyers in the country, a minimum of Rs two million, totalling Rs four trillion. He brought to the notice of the Prime Minister a grey area in the law, which is preventing the people of the country from seeking effective legal redress for the enforcement of their rights. This is due to an archaic legal provision that has outlived its utility and has today become a handicap for hapless persons, who are being made to suffer in silence, Dr Aggarwala pointed out. He said the time was ripe to amend the law, keeping pace with the rapid developments that have taken place over the years.
There is convincing material to demonstrate that the spread of the pandemic is the handiwork of the People's Republic of China, alleged the President of International Council of Jurists. ''The virus is the creation of its laboratories under orders of the Government, which is now trying to cover its tracks. The virus, developed with remarkable ability to mutate, spread and afflict, and with an unprecedented rate of mortality, has been deliberately and consciously wreaked upon the world by the Government of China, as part of its design, the Jurist further alleged. He told the Prime Minister that China has misled the world on several counts, such as the nature of the Novel Coronavirus, its possible transmission from one human to another, and the rampant way in which it spreads. Due to deliberate acts and omissions and partly due to negligence on China's part, the world is facing the gruelling task of trying to tame the pandemic, he added. He noted that according to Section 86 of CPC, no foreign State may be sued in any Court otherwise competent to try the suit, except with the consent of the Central Government certified in writing by a Secretary to that Government. It should be noted that the above provision allows suits to enforce contractual obligations in respect of trade activity in which a government is engaged, but not for damages for the commission of a tort.
There is no logic underlying this distinction, he pointed out. Dr Aggarwala drew attention to the fact that as per the Doctrine of State Immunity, States enjoy protection from being sued in courts of other States and are exempted from prosecution or suits for the violation of the laws of another State. But this applies to only those States who have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property ('Convention'). The Jurist further appealed to the Prime Minister to examine this issue and come out with an Ordinance at the earliest. (UNI)