In a late evening response to SC notice, the Kerala government said it relaxed the Covid lockdown norms to address the distressing condition of the traders, who had stocked up for Bakrid. With the economic slowdown haunting the traders, not allowing them to sell their stock during festival would have dealt a crippling blow to their finances, it said justifying the three-day relaxation of lock down norms, which ends on Tuesday.
Unlike the suo motu cognisance of a newspaper report on the UP government mulling permission to Kanwar Yatra, a bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai appeared to have missed another report on July 17 titled “Ahead of Bakrid, Kerala relaxes Covid curbs for three days from Sunday”. Already two days of relaxation have gone by and Tuesday is the last day of relaxation.
Kerala has been registering a high number of Covid cases for several weeks now. The state government’s decision to ease the norms for Bakrid is irresponsible. The apex court has rightly issued a notice asking it to explain.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for applicant P K D Nambiar, told the bench that though among states, Kerala is registering the highest number of cases, the state government, out of political considerations, has relaxed the Covid curbs for three days at a time when the SC is expressing serious reservations over Kanwar Yatra.
Without making any caustic observations, as made during the hearings on Kanwar Yatra, the bench asked the Kerala government counsel G Prakash to file the state’s response within a day. Prakash said the Covid curbs are in place except for relaxation to open shops during the festivities.
The bench in its order recorded the UP government’s statements and efforts in getting the Kanwar Yatra postponed this year too by persuading the Kanwar committees in the state.