The Supreme Court on 20 July came down hard on the Kerala government for relaxing Covid-19 restrictions on the occasion of Bakrid in the state. The apex court observed that it was ‘shocking’ that the state government had given in to the demands of traders while easing lockdown norms.
The Supreme Court went on to add that if there is any spread of the Covid-19 infection due to the lockdown relaxations by the Kerala government owing to Bakrid, any person can bring it to the notice of the court which will then take appropriate action.
“Pressurehood of any manner cannot infringe upon the most precious right of Right to Life for citizens of India, if any untoward incident takes place then any public can bring it to our notice and action will be taken accordingly,” the court said.
The Supreme Court directed the Kerala administration to follow the orders it had issued while asking the union government to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year in view of the pandemic.
Kerala govt defends decision
Defending its decision to relax lockdown restrictions, the Kerala government, in its affidavit, said, “It may be noted that the curbs and resultant economic slowdown have put the population in a lot of misery. Even though the state government has taken all possible steps to alleviate the same, the people have been frustrated by the curbs which have been in vogue for more than three months.”
The state government said that the traders were expecting that festival sales would alleviate their miseries to a certain extent and they had stocked up goods for this purpose much earlier. “The organisation of traders started to agitate against the stringent curbs implemented…and declared that they will open shops all over the state flouting regulations,” said the government, citing that even opposition political parties raised the traders’ issue.
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.