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'Sorry State of Affairs, Giving in to Pressure Groups': SC Slams Kerala's Decision to Relax Covid Norms for Eid

A man waits to sell his goat in Mumbai ahead of Bakrid. (PTI)

A man waits to sell his goat in Mumbai ahead of Bakrid. (PTI)

The bench also warned that if, as a result of this policy of the state, any spread of COVID disease takes place, any member of the public can bring it to the notice of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday castigated the Kerala government’s decision to relax Covid-19 norms for three days on account of Eid, calling the move “uncalled for".

“The relaxation for one day to Category D areas was wholly uncalled for. In these circumstances, we direct the state of Kerala to give heed to Article 21 of the Constitution read with Article 141 of the Constitution and follow our directions given in the UP case. Also, pressure groups of all kinds, religious or otherwise, cannot in any way interfere with this most fundamental right of all the citizens of India", the bench headed by Justice Nariman observed.

According to a report by LiveLaw, the bench also warned that if, as a result of this policy of the state, any spread of COVID disease takes place, any member of the public can bring it to the notice of the Supreme Court.

“We may also indicate that if as a result of these policies, any uncalled spread of COVID disease takes place, any member of public may bring this to the notice of this court, after which this court may take appropriate action", the bench said.

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“To give in to pressure groups so that that the citizenry of India is then laid-bare to a nationwide pandemic discloses a sordid state of affairs", the bench added.

A bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, KM Joseph and BR Gavai had on Monday asked the Kerala Government to file a reply to an application challenging the easing of curbs

Kerala government in response to the plea told SC that the norms were eased to address the distressing condition of the traders, who had stocked up for eid.

“With the economic slowdown haunting the traders, not allowing them to sell their stock during the festival would have dealt a crippling blow to their finances,” it said justifying the three-day relaxation of lockdown norms, which ends on Tuesday. The state added that only limited relaxations have been given, while all Covid-19 protocols are being followed in the markets.

The matter came up for hearing in the apex court before a bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai.

On July 17, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced the concessions at a press conference and said that in view of Bakrid (Eid-ul-Azha) being celebrated on July 21, textiles, footwear shops, jewellery, fancy stores, shops selling home appliances and electronic items, all types of repairing shops and shops selling essential items shall be allowed to open on July 18, 19 and 20 from 7 AM to 8 PM in category A, B, and C areas.

The state recorded 16,148 new Covid cases, its highest single day rise in more than a month. The test positivity rate has shot up above 10%, which requires following restrictions according to ICMR guidelines.

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first published:July 20, 2021, 11:36 IST