The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Kerala government's decision to relax COVID protocols for three days starting July 18 on account of Eid ul Azha or Bakri Eid, especially in areas where the infection rate is high was "wholly uncalled for".
"What is extremely alarming is the fact that in category D, where infection rates are above 15%, a full day of relaxation was granted, which was yesterday (July 18)," the bench said.
Though the apex court did not quash the notification, the bench led by Justice RF Nariman issued a stern warning that if any untoward spread of COVID19 takes place as a result of the state's decision, the court would take necessary action against those responsible.
"To give in to pressure groups so that that the citizenry of India is then laid-bare to a nationwide pandemic discloses a sorry state of affairs," the court observed. Also, 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 bench also comprising Justice BR Gavai said.
The top court's observation came on a plea filed by PKD Nambiar who said easing norms when Kerala had a high number of COVID cases was disastrous.
"Uttar Pradesh is at 0.02 (TPR) and yet they have restrictions," senior advocate Vikas Singh had said referring to the cancellation of Kanwar Yatra. "They (Kerala) are at 10% and how can they justify this?" Singh said representing Nambiar.
Kerala had justified easing norms on the grounds that "relaxations were given to provide succor to the traders who were expecting that Bakri Eid sales will alleviate their misery to a certain extent." To which, the court observed that the Kerala government had disclosed a "sorry state of affairs" and did not "in any real manner safeguard the right to life and health guaranteed to all citizens of India".
Nambiar had intervened in the top court's suo motu matter on Kanwar Yatra.
The Supreme Court on July 14 had taken suo motu cognizance UP government's decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra, even as the Uttarakhand rescinded its decision to allow the same. On July 16, the top court had directed the government to reconsider its decision, following which UP had canceled the Kanwar Yatra.