HC calls for ban on rallies, strict adherence to Covid guidelines

The Karnataka high court on Wednesday had pulled up the state government for allowing the Mekedatu padayatra by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee
Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar participates in Mekedatu Padyatra, in Ramanagara on Wednesday. (Agencies)
Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar participates in Mekedatu Padyatra, in Ramanagara on Wednesday. (Agencies)
Published on Jan 15, 2022 12:50 AM IST
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ByArun Dev I Edited by Shilpa Ambardar, Bengaluru

The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the state government to ensure that the guidelines and standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the state on January 4 are strictly adhered to in all the districts and added that no rallies, dharnas or any other political gathering to be permitted in the entire state, till the SOP is in operation.

The development came as the high court took cognizance of the public interest litigations (PILs) seeking directions for the state government to restrain Mekedatu padayatra organised by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and not allow rallies and dharnas.

A division bench of chief justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and justice Suraj Govindaraj gave the order while hearing the PIL filed by activist Nagendra Prasad AV.

The Karnataka high court on Wednesday had pulled up the state government for allowing the Mekedatu padayatra by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and questioned whether it was “helpless” to stop the party from doing so amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

While the court sought an explanation from the state government on how it allowed such activity during the pandemic, it also asked the party to submit an explanation by January 14 whether they had taken any permission to hold the rally.

Appearing for the Congress, senior advocate Uday Holla said that the party has suspended the padayatra taking into consideration the high court’s observations made during the last hearing. However, Holla claimed that the state government banned only KPCC’s padayatra in its latest order but other political parties were being allowed to hold the rallies.

The additional advocate general (AAG) appearing for the state said that the general notification issued on January 4 had prohibited all the rallies, dharna and protests.

The bench took note of the AAG’s submission that it had passed an order following the court’s orders on January 12. “All inter-district movement of vehicles to attend the padayatra are prohibited and all superintendent of police and divisional commissioners are directed to enforce the order strictly. The transport commissioner is directed to take adequate measures regarding the same. It is submitted that adequate measures have been taken by the state government to implement the government order,” said the bench.

“In view of the government order prohibiting the padayatra, and the suspension of the said padayatra by respondent themselves we feel that the purpose for which the writ petition was filed no more exists. As such we do not find it necessary to keep the petition pending,” the bench stated while disposing of the petition.

The court also told the government that it should strictly implement the Covid guidelines.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022