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Can’t give in to pressure groups and lift curbs, SC tells Kerala government

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said governments cannot “blithely” lift Covid restrictions in areas where there are high infections at the instance of pressure groups, religious or otherwise, jeopardising the lives and health of citizens. It criticised the Kerala government for throwing caution to the winds ahead of Eid.

The state government had relaxed all curbs in category D –– which had high infection rates –– for three days till Tuesday to allow for Eid festivities. A Delhi resident from the state, PKD Nambiar, had drawn the top court’s attention to this. Acting on his plea, a bench led by Justice Nariman, warned the state against casually relaxing such curbs.

“The aforesaid facts disclose an alarming state of affairs. To give in to pressure groups so that the citizenry of India is laid bare to a nationwide pandemic discloses a sorry state of affairs,” the bench said, dubbing the lifting of restrictions as wholly “uncalled for”.

The bench warned Kerala to take heed of the court orders. The court had earlier asked Uttar Pradesh to desist from going ahead with the Kanwar Yatra and not give in to populist measures which could fuel the pandemic further.

“… pressure groups of all kinds, religious or otherwise, cannot in any manner, interfere with this most fundamental right of all the citizens of India.”

The court asked the public to draw its attention to any untoward spread of corona in the state after the relaxations so that it could fix responsibility and take action against those flouting court orders.

The Kerala chief secretary had, in an affidavit filed on Monday, claimed that the relaxations ahead of Eid were in the nature of extended timings for markets. He claimed that these were no different from earlier relaxations which had taken effect from June 15. The state claimed that it had taken the step after representations from traders who said that they had stocked up for business during this festive week.

The Kerala government case was argued by senior advocate Ranjit Kumar. He claimed that the guidelines mandated that all shoppers would be required to show that they have taken at least one vaccine dose and would have to follow social distancing and masking norms.

Nambiar, reacting to the court order, said it should be a reminder to the state government not to play communal vote bank politics in the middle of a pandemic that has killed millions across the globe. “I hope and trust that the Pinarayi Vijayan government will honour the message from the Supreme Court and at least now fulfil its responsibility of saving people’s lives. I once again thank the Hon’ble Supreme Court for its kind intervention”.

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