SC raps Kerala govt for easing Covid-19 curbs for Bakrid

The court directed the Kerala government to follow its orders given in the Kanwar Yatra case.

The Supreme Court Tuesday took the Kerala government to task for easing Covid-19 curbs in the state for the Bakrid festival, even in areas with a high test positivity rate (TPR). The bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said that pressure groups of any kind, religious or otherwise, cannot in any manner interfere with the right to life.

The court directed the state government to follow its orders given in the Kanwar Yatra case. Earlier, Justice Nariman had directed the state of Uttar Pradesh to reconsider even allowing a symbolic physical Kanwar Yatra given the fear of a third Covid-19 wave after taking suo motu cognisance of a report in The Indian Express on UP’s decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra during the pandemic.

A petition had been filed in the apex court challenging the ease in lockdown for three days, beginning Sunday, in Kerala for the Eid-al-Adha. On Monday, the state government filed its response in the court stating that curbs put in place to deal with Covid-19 have put people in a lot of misery and traders who had stocked up goods were expecting Bakrid sales to alleviate their misery to a certain extent.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh in turn argued that India has currently 30,000 cases, “only because of 15,000 in Kerala.” The bench termed the decision, “alarming” that all shops, even non-essential, were allowed to open in category D, which refers to a severe category of infections. The state government has blindly recorded that opening of shops will strictly follow Covid protocols, Justice Nariman said.

“What is extremely alarming, is in category D where infection rate was higher than 15 percent a full day of relaxation was granted, which was yesterday,” he said.

The state government had cautioned the public that “as far as possible” only those vaccinated with at least one dose should visit the shops. However, the bench stated that usage of “as far as possible” and assurances from traders do not inspire any confidence in people of India.

“We direct state of Kerala to give heed to Article 21 read with Article 144 of the constitution of India and follow our orders given in the Kanwar yatra case,” the bench concluded.

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