Covid 19 and the Use of Law

Prior to the announcement of the National Lockdown on 25 March 2020, a number of courts had shut down in response to the present pandemic of COVID 19. Furthermore Human Rights Law Network cancelled a number of Consultations and Meetings that were to be held during this period. As soon as the lockdown was announced it became clear that human rights was a major concern that had to be dealt with, with people below the poverty line not being able to access food security schemes, women and lactating mothers not being able to access schemes for their reproductive health, migrant labourers being treated like dirt, the number of human rights violations that came to the forefront were very many.

Initially the courts seemed unapproachable, with lawyers and affected people attempting to figure out how the issues would be raised in court and conducting proceedings through video conferencing. Slowly but steadily HRLN lawyers started filing cases in court beginning with one of the cases of providing relief to persons in prisons to migrant labourers to tackling a number of issues.

Parallels being socially conscious individual’s lawyers and social activists realized the importance of giving direct aid to persons, lawyers and activists were involved in distribution of dry ration and grains, distribution of masks and sanitizers and in a number of places distribution of cooked food for those who were in urgent need of food. Through the network and through various partners, HRLN covered various marginalized populations including PLHIV, Transgender Persons, persons living in slums, migrant labourers among a range of people across the country.

In the wake of Covid 19, a group of researchers and lawyers from HRLN began the process of organising a series of workshops over webinars, to begin the collective conversation around emergent issues as well as to collate all the individual work done by states. The main objective of organising these webinars was to facilitate learning and sharing of experiences of lawyers/social activists involved in litigation/relief work during Covid-19 lockdown and develop strategies for future work.

The first in the series of webinars was a detailed discussion surrounding Covid 19 & the Use of Law. The meeting was organised on 7th May, 2020, from 9 AM to 2 PM.