The Supreme Court on 19 July asked the Kerala government to file its response by the end of the day to the plea against its decision easing restrictions ahead of Bakrid when the state is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The Supreme Court asked Kerala to file its response within 24 hours and agreed to take up the issue on 20 July.
On 17 July, 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 21 July, 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 18, 19 and 20 July from 7 AM to 8 PM in Category A, B and C areas.
NGO Indian Medical Association (IMA) had warned the state government that it would approach the Supreme Court over easing of restrictions on pretext of religious gatherings around Bakrid amid the rising Covid cases in the state. The IMA had warned the state government over lifting Covid curbs ahead of the festival and called its decision as “retrograde”. It cautioned that the third wave may be imminent if appropriate measures were not being taken.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Vikas Singh before the Supreme Court said Kerala has an official positivity rate of 10.96% and yet the relaxation has been granted. Kerala has 13,000 cases whereas Uttar Pradesh has much less. The Supreme Court must pass orders quashing the relaxation, the petitioner pleaded.
In its response, Kerala said it had opened only a few shops for the festival and otherwise all norms for Covid-19 are strictly followed.
The petitioner moved the application after the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the pandemic situation to raise concerns about the proposed Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh.
Whereas in the said case the Supreme Court had expressed reservation about permitting the Kanwar rituals, considering the Covid-19 protocols, the application highlights that the Kerala government is acting casually by relaxing lockdown restrictions for Bakrid festivities from 18 to 20 July.