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Bakrid: SC picks up Kerala for ‘bending to pressure’, says heeding Kanwar Yatra order

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CRITICAL OF the Kerala government for easing Covid-19 restrictions on Bakrid, even in areas with a high test positivity rate, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that “Giving in to pressure groups so as to expose the citizenry to a nationwide pandemic reveals a regrettable situation”.

While the Bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai instructed the state government to “follow the established lawIn the court order in the Kanwar Yatra case, it said it did not nullify the government’s notice as Tuesday was the last day of the three-day easing period.

However, The Bench said that “if as a result of the notification… any undesired spread of Covid-19 disease occurs, any member of the public may bring it to the attention of this court, after which this court will take necessary action against those responsible.” to be”.

Last week, the court had asked the government of Uttar Pradesh to allow even a symbolic physical Kanwar Yatra, underlining that “the health of the Indian people and their right to life are paramount” and that “all other sentiments, albeit religious ones, are subordinate to this most fundamental fundamental right”.

On Tuesday, the Bench ordered the government of Kerala to “respect” the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, saying that “pressure groups of all kinds, religious or otherwise, cannot interfere in any way with these most precious constitutional right of all citizens of India”.

In response to an application challenging the easing of the curbs, the state told the court in an affidavit on Monday that it was done to alleviate the misery of merchants who had stockpiled goods for Bakrid.

The Bench, which studied the affidavit, pointed to the government’s July 17 notice of the easing of restrictions, which read: “It is specifically ordered that persons visiting shops and other establishments, to the extent possible, be among those with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and follow strict Covid protocols”. “Homilies such as ‘as far as possible’ and guarantees from merchants at all, do not inspire confidence in the people of India or this court,” said the Bench.

The court said the state government’s decision to allow one-day easing (July 19), even in “Category D” areas, where the positivity rate was over 15 percent, was “extremely alarming” and “totally inappropriate” .

Referring to a paragraph in the affidavit filed by the government of Kerala, the court said it revealed that the state had admitted to trade associations, which claimed they had stockpiled goods for Bakrid.

The Bench said the affidavit “reveals a sad state of affairs … and in no way guarantees the right to life and health guaranteed to all citizens of India under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.

The order came in response to a request for intervention filed by Delhi-based political analyst PKD Nambiar in the Kanwar Yatra case, challenging the Kerala government’s decision to ease restrictions. On Monday, the court had asked the state to respond to the request.

In its response submitted Monday evening, the Kerala government said the Covid-19 curbs had caused much misery and merchants, who had stockpiled goods, expected the sale of Bakrid to alleviate their misery to some extent.

Senior lawyer Vikas Singh appeared before Nambiar and said the affidavit was “shocking”. The document, he said, said Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said those who had taken at least one dose of vaccine could visit stores, in violation of the Disaster Management Act.

“Uttar Pradesh is at 0.02% (test positivity rate) and yet they have limitations. They (Kerala) are at 10%, how can they justify this? … These are populist measures … Someone needs to be made responsible. You can’t do something and get away with it. Cases can rise. The states can screw up the testing,” he said.

Senior lawyer Ranjit Kumar, who appeared before the Kerala government, objected to his submission, saying the petitioner “didn’t say anything about fiddling with numbers. To say that without proof is wrong.”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told a review meeting on Tuesday that the existing restrictions would continue for another week. “For the time being, there is no relaxation in curbs. Test positivity rose to 10.8 percent. Cases have been reported in Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kasaragod districts. Micro-level containment should be implemented effectively at the grassroots level,” he said. The state reported 16,848 new cases on Tuesday. Several district administrations issued strict standards for Wednesday’s Eid prayers, including limiting access to mosques to 40 people. – With ENS inputs, Thiruvananthapuram

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