Supreme Court scrutiny on Kerala relaxations for Eid amid alarming Covid tally
NEW DELHI: Days after the Supreme Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reconsider its decision to allow the kanwar yatra amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the top court on Monday asked the Kerala government to submit a reply on its move to ease curbs for Eid festivities even as the state battled a surge in infections.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday cancelled the pilgrimage for this year, citing a decision by groups representing the pilgrims.
In a brief affidavit filed in the top court on Monday, Kerala said only people who have taken at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose will be allowed to visit shops as part of the three-day relaxations announced for Bakrid celebrations in the state. Kerala chief secretary VP Joy also underlined that the relaxations depend on the positivity rate being reported from the districts and those with a positivity rate of more than 15% will only get a one-day relaxation. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier said this would be for Bakrid (Eid-ul-Azha).
Citing the condition that people who step out for Bakrid shopping must have had at least one dose, the affidavit said 45% of Kerala’s adult population has been vaccinated with one dose while 18% of the adults have taken both doses.
Kerala’s defence of the relaxations, expected to be considered by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, comes even as the state reported 9,931 new cases on Tuesday. Kerala’s test positivity rate (TPR) also went up to 11.08%, its highest in 17 days.
A bench of justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai had earlier in the day ordered the state government to file its response to an application filed by a Delhi resident PKD Nambiar who complained that the Kerala government was “playing with the lives of citizens” by relaxing the lockdown curbs on July 18, 19 and 20.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who appeared for the petitioner, said Uttar Pradesh, which reported a positivity rate of 0.02% had called off the kanwar yatra while Kerala was going ahead with the relaxations that could seriously impact citizens’ health.
The bench had earlier on Monday closed its suo moto proceedings on the kanwar yatra in Uttar Pradesh after the state government told the judges that the kanwar sanghs (organisations) agreed to voluntarily defer the annual yatra.
The bench, which recorded the UP’s stand on Monday, reminded authorities at all levels to be conscious of Article 144 of the Constitution.