The Supreme Court of India today pulled up the Kerala government over the three-day relaxations in Covid-19 curbs in the state on account of Bakrid amid a surge in the number of cases. The apex court termed the move as ‘wholly uncalled for’ while asking the Pinarayi Vijayan government to follow the orders issued in the Kanwar Yatra case. The top court’s judgement came on the third and the last day of the relaxations which started on July 18 and is ending today.
“We direct the 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,” said the top court while observing that pressure of any manner cannot infringe upon the most precious right to life for citizens of India. It said that if any untoward incident takes place, then anyone from the public can bring it to the top court’s notice and action will be taken accordingly.
Notably, the Kerala government has justified the relaxations given in COVID-19 lockdown citing frustration among traders. The government claimed that traders had said they will open shops and flout rules if relaxations were not announced.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, who appeared for the applicant PKD Nambiar who filed the plea in the SC, termed the Kerala government’s contention as absurd. “I don’t know where the country is going. Our number is 30,000 from across India only because 15,000 of it is from Kerala. They say shop owners wanted to open shops all over and that’s why they eased relaxations… It is shocking…The Chief Minister is saying that a person with one shot of vaccine can attend shops. They have a 10 per cent positivity rate and UP has a 0.2 per cent positivity rate,” said Singh.
Appearing for the Kerala government, Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar said that the state has categorised the areas between below 5 per cent positivity rate, above it and above 10 per cent while announcing the relaxations.
Hearing the case, Justice Nariman said that the current state of affairs discloses that the state government has given in to the association of traders and the state has blindly recorded that shops will follow Covid protocols. Justice Nariman also termed the Kerala government’s decision to allow a full day of relaxation in category D areas where the infection rate was higher than 15 per cent as ‘extremely alarming’.
“This alarming state of affairs. To give in to the pressure tactics so that citizenry of India to a nationwide pandemic discloses a sorry state of affairs. Usage of “as far as possible” and assurances from traders do not inspire any confidence in people of India,” said Justice Nariman.
The SC, however, refused to quash the Kerala government’s notification.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had allowed textiles, footwear shops, jewellery, fancy stores, shops selling home appliances and electronic items, all types of repairing shops and shops selling essential items to open on July 18, 19 and 20 in view of Bakrid despite the state recording around 15,000 cases every day.