Sorry state of affairs, can't give in to religious pressure groups: SC to Kerala
New Delhi, July 20, 2021
The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Kerala government for giving in to the association of traders for relaxing Covid curbs for Bakrid festivities.
Directing the government to pay heed to the right to life of citizens, the top court asked it to follow its directions in the "Kanwar Yatra" matter.
A bench comprising Justice R. F. Nariman and B. R Gavai said: "We may only say shocking state of affairs...the relaxation of a day in category D (areas having high Covid positivity rate) is wholly uncalled for." The bench emphasized, "Pressure groups of any kind, religious or otherwise, cannot in any manner interfere with citizens' fundamental right to life."
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the petitioner in the top court challenging the Kerala government's decision to relax Covid curbs for the Bakrid festivities, emphasized that the top court should pass some order in the matter, as today is the last day of Covid curbs relaxation.
Justice Nariman replied, "There is no point. The horse has already bolted." Justice Nariman added if pleas were filed earlier, then surely something could have been done. The top court did not pass any order quashing the notification issued by the Kerala government for Covid relaxations for Bakrid.
The top court pointed out that the Kerala government also gave in to an association of traders, who urged the government to relax Covid lockdown norms for Bakrid festivities. "What is extremely alarming is that category D, where infection rate is the highest, a full day of relaxation was granted," noted the top court.
Concluding the hearing in the matter, the Supreme Court emphasized that if there is any spread of the infection due to these relaxations, then any person can bring it to the notice of the court which will take appropriate action.
After forcing the Uttar Pradesh government to use its influence over religious bodies to postpone the annual "Kanwar Yatra", a bench headed by Justice Nariman on Monday had asked for the Kerala government's response on the plea against relaxation of Covid curbs for Bakrid festivities.
The application against the Kerala government's decision to relax Covid curbs was moved by one P. K. D. Nambiar, a Delhi resident, in the suo motu case already initiated by the Supreme Court in connection with Uttar Pradesh government's decision on Kanwar Yatra.
The application submitted that despite discontentment shown by the top court over the yatra, the Kerala government is acting in a casual manner by relaxing Covid norms. "To the utter dismay of India's citizens, the Kerala government announced a 3-day relaxation of lockdown restrictions on July 18, 19 and 20 keeping in view the upcoming Bakrid festival," said the plea.