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ICJ president & co-author of Modi book moves UNHRC blaming China for Covid-19 ‘conspiracy’

Advocate Adish C. Aggarwala alleged negligence by China in dealing with Covid-19, seeking an unspecified compensation amount from the country.

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New Delhi: A complaint has been filed with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) alleging that the coronavirus pandemic was a result of China’s conspiracy “aimed at catapulting itself to the position of a superpower of the world and undermining other countries through biological warfare”.

The complaint, filed by senior advocate Dr Adish C. Aggarwala in an email to UNHRC Friday, also alleged negligence on the part of Chinese authorities in dealing with the pandemic, and sought an unspecified amount as a financial reparation from China. 

Aggarwala is currently the president of the International Council of Jurists (ICJ), headquartered in London. He has been the ICJ’s president since 2007.

“The Chinese government’s response in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic has violated various Charters and Guidelines issued by the Hon’ble United Nations and have endangered the lives of millions, and has made life and business across the globe to come to a complete standstill,” the complaint stated.

The complaint listed People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army and Wuhan Institute of Virology as the respondents. The Chinese city of Wuhan was the epicentre of the outbreak.

Incidentally, Aggarwala is the co-author of a coffee-table book titled ‘Narendra Modi: A Charismatic & Visionary Statesman’. The forward of the book was written by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The book was launched on 17 September 2018 on PM Modi’s 68th birthday. It claims to present an ‘objective’ picture of PM Modi, who the authors said, “successfully left the spectre of the Gujarat riots of 2002 behind to rise like a phoenix in spite of much adversity and court battles”.

He is also the chairman of the All India Bar Association (AIBA).

The complaint stated it has been submitted on Aggarwala’s behalf and also on behalf of the ICJ and AIBA.

In the past, he has been the vice-chairman of the Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court Bar Association, as well as the chairman of the Bar Council of Delhi. 

In 2016, Aggarwala had represented a petitioner before the Delhi High Court, seeking immediate arrest of five Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students — Umar Khalid, Anant Prakash Narayan, Ashutosh Kumar, Rama Naga and Anirban Bhattacharya. These students were accused of raising anti-national slogans. This plea was, however, dismissed.

Also read: China has concealed extent of its coronavirus outbreak, US intelligence report says

Demanded probe against ex-CJI Justice Dipak Misra

The ICJ comprises jurists from across the world, “working together to establish a healthy development of justice and equality around the world”.

Its past presidents were former PM of Jordan Justice Awn S Al-Khasawneh, former chief justices of India Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice R.C. Lahoti, and former International Bar Association president Fernando Pombo.

Currently, its vice-presidents include former chief justice of Pakistan Justice I.M. Chaudhry, former chief justice of Bangladesh Justice S.K. Sinha and United Kingdom MPs Rt Hon’ble David Lammy and professor (Dr) Holger Matt.

The ICJ has largely indulged in organising campaigns for legal awareness.

But in 2017, it wrote to then chief justice of India J.S. Khehar, questioning his decision to recommend Justice Dipak Misra as the next chief justice.

The ICJ had then sought an in-house probe against Justice Mishra for alleged irregularities. The matter pertained to the allegations that he acquired public land intended for the landless poor by submitting a false affidavit. 

As the AIBA chairman, Aggarwala had issued a statement, opposing the appointment of former chief justice of India P. Sathasivam as the governor of Kerala in 2014. 

In September last year, the AIBA, through Aggarwala, had also taken exception to then Madras High Court chief justice V.K. Tahilramani’s decision to resign after she was transferred to Meghalaya High Court. 

A press statement signed by Aggarwala had said that her resignation amounted to denigration of the Supreme Court collegium. 

Also read: China hasn’t just won its war on coronavirus. It’s also beating US in global diplomacy

‘Political motivations’ behind Covid-19

Aggarwala’s complaint to the UNHRC raises questions over the spread of the virus, which, he claimed, hasn’t affected China as much as it has affected the rest of the world.

This, Aggarwala said, leads to the conclusion that “the existence and the spread of the disease has political motivations and ends”.

He further claimed the virus was “developed in the Wuhan Virology Lab from where it was carefully deployed to affect a miniscule 0.001% of the Chinese population, thereafter, through meticulous planting of ‘infected’ persons around the world, the virus has reached every nook and corner of the planet, affecting health, industries and more importantly, the world’s economy.”

China now intends on utilising the virus to “take control of the world’s economy”, he added.

Aggarwala further alleged that China has violated Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares that everybody has a right to a “standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family…”

This, he said, obligated the Chinese government to ensure that it does not interfere with people’s right to health. He claimed the Chinese government “deliberately hidden and censored information” on Covid-19.

China wanted to leave the world unprepared

Aggarwala alleged the Chinese violated Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which lists steps that countries need to take to ensure that people have the right to physical and mental health. 

One of these steps includes the “prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases”.

By not issuing prompt health warnings, Aggarwala said China has “failed to address prevention, treatment and control of epidemic of Covid-19 within its territory and to the rest of the world”.

He then asserted that by not creating a proper mechanism to deal with the epidemic and “deliberately misleading” the World Health Organisation (WHO), China “ensured the rest of the world is not prepared to handle the virus leading to collapse of the world economy”. 

The complaint also stated that by delaying sharing of information with the WHO, China has violated the WHO’s International Health Regulations and was liable under International Law Commission’s Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Act, 2001.

Also read: China’s coronavirus response has made the world confront grim realities of its leadership


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