Sorry state of affairs: SC on Kerala's Bakrid lockdown relaxation
The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed alarm over the three-day relaxation on COVID-19 curbs for Bakrid (Eid-ul-Azha) in Kerala. The apex court noted that the state government's relaxation granted to the religious celebrations was "wholly uncalled for." Notably, Kerala is reporting the highest number of infections for any Indian state and large gatherings may exacerbate the situation. Here are more details.
A two-judge bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai was hearing a plea filed by one PKD Nambiar in the suo motu case the bench was presiding over regarding the Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh. The bench noted that the Kerala government cannot "give in to pressure groups" and proceed to offer relaxations, discounting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Supreme Court bench told the Kerala government, "Alarming state of affairs to give in to pressure tactics. Pressure hood of any manner cannot infringe upon the most precious right of right to life." "If any untoward incident takes place due to this relaxation, the public can bring to our notice and action will be taken accordingly," the bench added.
The court asked Kerala to refer to Article 21 (right to life) and its order in the Kanwar Yatra case. Last Friday, the court asked the UP government to stop the Kanwar Yatra over COVID-19. When the applicant asked the court to pass orders reversing Kerala's relaxation, Justice Nariman said, "There's no point. The horse has already bolted. We are not quashing the notification."
Meanwhile, Kerala submitted in court that the relaxation has existed since June 15 and it was not introduced for the festival. It mentioned the miseries of traders, who rely on sales during Bakrid. "They have stocked up the goods for this purpose much early," it said. The state government said traders had threatened to open their shops, in violation of any restrictions, en masse.
To note, the lockdown relaxation was announced on Saturday for three days leading to Bakrid, which will be celebrated on July 21. Kerala is the only state reporting over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. Single-day infections dipped to 9,931 on Monday. The Indian Medical Association had on Sunday warned against the easing of lockdown curbs because of the "inevitable, impending third wave."