Govt should bring specific law to deal with crisis arising out of Covid-19, says Harish Salve

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NEW DELHI: Observing that the lockdown imposed by the government to check the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to many complex legal disputes arising out of non-performance of contractual and statutory obligations by people, companies and authorities, noted constitutional expert and senior advocate Harish Salve said the Centre should bring a law to deal with the issue.
Speaking at a global webinar organised by Bennett University, Salve said such a law is the need of the hour as the scenario triggered by the pandemic is very complex and the government should take initiative to bring a legislation instead of leaving it to the judiciary to decide as the courts are already overburdened with cases.
On the impact of Cobid-19 on contracts and commerce, he said many countries across the world are considering to frame Covid-specific law to deal with the crisis which has thrown up challenges of a new kind never witnessed earlier.
Salve said the government can pass order not to take any coercive action but what will happen in cases of third party duty. "There is need for a law so that people are not penalised because of non-performance of contractual obligations as whole business were shut and there was no fund during the period," he said.
He said the government has the responsibility to mitigate hardships caused to businesses, service providers etc as lockdown affected the performance of contracts and statutory duties.
"Lockdown has disrupted the performance of these statutory duties, including filing tax returns, reporting to regulators etc. Govt has granted remissions, relaxations but that is only a small part of the existing problem. There is a gap and some law is needed to ensure people are not unnecessarily penalised for non-performance of such duties," he said.

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