- The Supreme Court said it was “shocking” that the state government had caved in to traders’ demands while relaxing lockdown regulations.
- The Kerala government’s lawyer, G Prakash, in its defence informed the SC bench that only a few shops have been allowed to reopen.
- The court has warned that if the virus spreads further as a result of the relaxation of restrictions, it would take action.
Kerala’s decision to “give in to pressure groups” by announcing a three-day relaxation of Covid limitations for Bakrid (Eid-ul-Azha) has concerned the Supreme Court, which remarked today that it was “wholly uncalled for.” It did not, however, revoke the government’s notification that lifted the state’s lockdown.
A two-judge bench comprising of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai informed the Kerala government and said, “Giving in to pressure methods is an alarming state of affairs. Any kind of pressure hood cannot infringe on the most precious right to life. If any unfortunate incidence occurs as a result of this relaxation, the people can notify us and we will take appropriate action.”
The court ordered the government to follow Article 21 and the court’s decision in the Kanwar Yatra case. It had ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to cancel the annual Hindu meeting last Friday, citing the fundamental right to life.
It expressed gratitude to petitioner PK Nambiar for bringing the matter to the court’s attention.
Kerala defended its decision to lift the curfew to celebrate Bakrid by telling the court that the relaxation had been in effect since June 15 and was not new. It also mentioned the hardships experienced by traders who had hoped that Bakrid sales would help them solve their financial troubles.
When Mr Nambiar’s lawyer, Senior Lawyer Vikas Singh, asked the court to issue certain directions because this was the last day of relaxation, Justice Nariman responded, “There is no use in doing so. The horse has already bolted from the stable. The notification will not be revoked.”
Mr Singh had previously informed the bench that the state’s Covid positive rate was over 10%.
On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered the Kerala government to respond to the petition challenging the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s three-day exemption.
The concession was announced on Saturday for the three days leading up to Bakrid, which is celebrated tomorrow.
Because of the “inevitable, approaching third wave,” the Indian Medical Association advised the government against loosening the restrictions on Sunday.