A bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai used phrases like “alarming state of affairs” and “sorry state of affairs” to explain the CPM-led coalition’s choice to loosen up lockdown norms even in areas with 15% positivity charge and castigated the state for “laying bare the right of life of citizens to Covid”.
However, it didn’t strike down the Kerala authorities notification permitting three-day relaxations in Covid lockdown norms for Eid buying, proscribing itself to issuing a warning that if Covid instances register a spike later attributable to opening of retailers for Eid, the authorities involved can be taken to job. This was in distinction to its strident stand in opposition to allowing Kanwar yatra, which was scheduled to start from July 25 in Uttar Pradesh.
The similar bench had left the Yogi Adityanath authorities with no alternative on the Kanwar Yatra — both the state stops it or the SC would direct it. This ultimatum pressured UP to persuade Kanwar organisations to voluntarily postpone the Yatras. At the time of listening to, UP was reporting lower than 100 instances day by day and had a complete caseload of 1,100. Kerala has a day by day caseload of round 12,000.
Justifying the relief notification at a time when the state is reporting a excessive quantity of Covid instances, the Kerala authorities stated, “Bakri-Eid, the holy festival of Muslims is being celebrated on July 21. The traders were expecting that Bakri-Eid sales would alleviate their misery to a certain extent. They have stocked up the goods for this purpose much earlier. The organisation of traders started to agitate against the stringent curbs… declared that they will open shops all over the state flouting the regulations. The opposition political parties also raised the traders’ issue in the public domain and demanded more relaxations in the curbs to give some respite to the traders and to allow some economic activities in the state.”
The bench agreed with petitioner P Ok D Nambiar’s counsel Vikas Singh, who described the notification as stunning. Singh stated non secular festivities can’t be a floor for leisure in a state which is the main contributor of Covid instances to the nation’s day by day tally. “If one does it for Bakri-Eid, the others will do it for Holi and Diwali,” he stated.
The bench stated, “…the affidavit read with this notification discloses that the state government has given in to associations of traders who represented before the government that they have stocked up goods for the purpose of Bakri-Eid very early. The state also blithely records that the opening of shops will strictly follow Covid protocols and they are ready to follow additional regulations ordered by the State, if any.”
“What is extremely alarming is the fact that in Category D, where infections are the highest i.e. 15%, a full day of relaxation has been granted, which was yesterday (July19). It is then stated that, as far as possible, the persons visiting shops and other establishments may belong to those with at least one dose of vaccine/Covid recovered category and follow strict Covid protocols,… along with the CM’s appeal,” the bench said.
“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. Even otherwise, homilies such as ‘as far as possibl’ and assurances from traders without anything more, do not inspire any confidence in the people of India or this court,” it said.
Justices Nariman and Gavai said, “We may only indicate that this affidavit discloses a sorry state of affairs as has been stated herein above, and does not in any real manner safeguard the Right to Life and Health guaranteed to all the citizens of India under Article 21 of the Constitution. It may also be pointed out that the relaxation for one day to a Category D area (with over 15% positivity rate) was wholly uncalled for. In these circumstances, we direct Kerala to give heed to Article 21 read with Article 144 of the Constitution, and follow the law laid down in our orders in the Uttar Pradesh case (Kanwar Yatra).”
Having decried the Eid-related leisure by the Kerala authorities, the bench made a basic comment that no authorities ought to buckle beneath stress from any group, non secular or in any other case. “Also, pressure groups of all kinds, religious or otherwise, cannot in any manner, interfere with this most precious fundamental right of all the citizens of India. We may also indicate that if as a result of the July 17 notification, any untoward spread in the Covid-19 disease takes place, any member of the public may bring this to the notice of this court, after which this court will take necessary action against those who are responsible.”