KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday set aside an order issued by Kannur district collector cancelling the appointment of Seva Bharathi as a relief agency considering the free service rendered by its volunteers during the pandemic period.
Justice N Nagaresh issued the order considering the petition filed by Deseeya Seva Bharati Kerala general secretary D Vijayan, seeking a directive to the Kannur district collector not to prevent or obstruct the petitioner and the district unit of Seva Bharathi from rendering voluntary service as a relief agency.
The petitioner stated that Seva Bharathi is a voluntary social service organisation working all over India, providing charitable services at grassroot level. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Seva Bharathi has been providing services to thousands of persons affected by the pandemic. It is operating 1270 Help Centres, 72 Quarantine Centres, 12 Covid Care Centres, 156 Support units for Government Covid Care Centres, 1431 Food Distribution Centres for Covid affected families, 616 Blood Donation Centres, 782 Immune Medicine Supply Centres, 42 Counselling Centres, 128 Ambulances and 552 other vehicles across Kerala. The petitioner is engaged in these activities purely on a charity basis.
The petitioner pointed out that since the Janta curfew was declared, the volunteers of Seva Bharathi have been rendering free services supplementing the work carried out by the district administration. The organisation was appointed a relief agency on May 5, 2021. However, it was cancelled within four days
alleging that volunteers have been working using the symbol and signs of a political party. The petitioner pointed out that circular issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Ayush, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences would show that to initiate local solutions during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Seva Bharati volunteers have been roped in.
The government submitted that the petitioner has no statutory right to be recognised as a Relief Agency.
The court said that no notice was given to the petitioner before the cancellation of the appointment. The petitioner was not informed as to who used it, where it was used and which political party’s symbols/signs were used during relief work. The district administration has not cared to make any sort of preliminary
inquiry in order to convince itself that the complaints against Seva Bharathi were not politically motivated. "The complaints made by the panchayat president or District Panchayat President, does not make such complaints acceptable as such without any inquiry. At least the petitioner should have been granted an
opportunity of hearing before passing the order. Hence, the order is unsustainable," held the court.