The Supreme Court Monday deferred the hearing in the plea filed before it against the decision of the Kerala government to relax COVID lockdown restrictions in the State for three days in view of Bakra Eid. It has asked the Kerala Government to file its response by the end of the day to the plea and directed the registry to list the matter for hearing on July 20 (Tuesday).
The court was hearing the plea filed by one PKD Nambiar, a Delhi resident. Nambiar had filed the petition as an intervention application in the suo motu case already initiated by the Supreme Court regarding the holding of Kanwar Yatra by Uttar Pradesh.
Surprisingly, the apex court’s decision to go soft on the Kerala Government’s decision to relax Covid curbs during Bakra Eid is in stark contrast to its stand on the celebration of Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh submitted before the court that Kerala has an official positivity rate of 10.96% and yet the relaxation has been granted. Furthermore, Kerala has 13,000 cases where as UP has much less. He appealed the SC to pass orders quashing the relaxation granted by the Kerala government ahead of Bakra Eid.
Kerala government contested that only a few shops will be allowed to open for the Bakra Eid festival shopping and otherwise all Covid restrictions will be followed.
Supreme Court takes suo motu case against Kanwar Yatra in UP, issues warning to Yogi Govt
The apex court had last week taken suo moto cognisance of the news that the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to allow ‘Kanwar Yatra’ amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. It had strictly warned the Yogi Adityanath government against holding the Hindu festival amidst the pandemic.
In fact, the same bench headed by Justice RF Nariman, that failed to pass any order on Monday to stop Kerala’s lockdown relaxations for Bakri Eid, had on July 16 (Friday), said categorically that the State of Uttar Pradesh cannot go ahead with its decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra in the State amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Either we will pass orders directly, or will give you one more opportunity to reconsider your decision”, Justice Nariman told Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who had appeared for the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Following SC’s warning, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year.
After taking the Uttar Pradesh government’s statement that it has decided to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year on record, the Supreme Court decided to close the case it took as suo moto against UP’s decision to hold Kanwar Yatra amid COVID-19.
Supreme Court takes on record the Uttar Pradesh government’s statement that it has decided to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year and closes the case it took as suo moto against UP’s decision to hold Kanwar Yatra amid COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/wu7uNcMHho— ANI (@ANI) July 19, 2021
Meanwhile, PKD Nambiar, who moved SC against the Kerala Government’s decision to allow relaxations during the Bakri Eid festival, submitted before the court that Kerala has been consistently showing an alarming rise in the numbers of COVID cases, though other states have improved their situation.
Adding that the decision to allow the relaxations by the Pinarayi govt was based on political and communal intentions, PKD Nambiar in his plea pointed out how the top court had taken a strict view against holding Kanwar Yatra citing the right to health of citizens.
The petitioner argued that the Kerala government’s move violates the Supreme Court’s July 16 order in the matter, which had specifically emphasised that the health of the citizenry of India and their right to life is paramount and that all other sentiments are subservient.
Nambiar, therefore, sought a similar intervention as regards the decision of the Kerala government to relax lockdown restrictions for three days.
Despite rising covid cases, Kerala Govt relaxes restriction in the run-up to Bakra Eid
It is pertinent to note here that Kerala on July 17 (Saturday) logged 16,148 new Covid-19 cases, the highest in a month. Despite the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, the Communist government in the state led by Pinarayi Vijayan has eased the lockdown regulations on July 18, 19, and 20 in the run-up to Bakri Eid on July 21.
IMA asks Kerala to withdraw order allowing Bakri Eid gatherings
In fact, this decision by the Pinarayi govt in Kerala was also criticised by the Indian Medical Association, which on Sunday warned the Kerala government against easing restrictions ahead of Bakri Eid even as the Chinese coronavirus pandemic rages unhinged in the state.
IMA raised concerns that Kerala and Maharashtra are contributing to over 60% of total new Chinese coronavirus cases in India and that Kerala has been topping the list of states with the highest new cases since days now and the trend is only upward with a test positivity rate of over 10%.
Citing how other states had restricted the Kanwar Yatra owing to the pandemic, IMA warned the Kerala Government to either withdraw its decision or they would be compelled to move the Supreme Court.