How can State allow Actors, Politicians to enter religious places when entry is prohibited for others? Karnataka HC

The Court opined that the state government ought to conduct inquiries into violations of social distancing norms rather than rely on complaints filed by the public.

The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the state government to submit separate inquiry reports made by officers with respect to alleged breaches of social distancing norms.

The Court passed this direction while hearing a plea alleging that the National Directives for COVID-19 Management, part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines issued on May 30, were not being followed in Karnataka.

During the hearing, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice SS Magadum opined that the state government ought to conduct inquiries into violations of social distancing norms rather than rely on complaints filed by the public.

"It's not the question of somebody reporting it, the question is of making inquiry and finding out if there is any breach of social distancing. This approach is wrong...."

Karnataka High Court

Appearing for the state government, Additional Advocate General Dhyan Chinnappa said that certain functions were conducted in private places, and therefore, there was no violation of social distancing norms in a public place.

Responding to this, the Court asked,

"If there is a function held in private space, the rule of wearing masks and social distancing are not applicable? Are you (state government) suggesting that?.......If a person has a large house and he holds a marriage ceremony, the authorities say that it was in private house and therefore, we are least concerned about social distancing, masks, etc..."

Karnataka High Court

The Bench further noted that certain persons (including celebrities) were given preference to enter Chamundi Hills Temple amid lockdown. Pulling up the government for this "discriminatory" practice, the Court asked,

"Who has granted permission and under what Authority of Law? Very objectionable! When entry (in temples) is prohibited, you are allowing entry for actors and political leaders?.... Who decides that only selected persons should enter the temple?"

Thus, the Court urged the State to clarify that its policy to stop entry of devotees into religious places would include "all devotees".

Also Read
[COVID-19] "Time to act with firm hands", Karnataka HC directs State to take action against persons violating social distancing norms

As the hearing came to an end, the Court asked whether there were any guidelines laid down by the governments for celebrating Independence Day on August 15 under the prevailing circumstances.

In response, Central Government Counsel Kumar informed the Court that the Central government had already issued guidelines in this regard.

Advocate GR Mohan then argued that politicians conducting rallies and flouting social distancing guidelines was one of the primary reasons for the quick spread of COVID-19 cases in the state.

"Prevention is the most important thing", Mohan contended.

The matter has been posted for hearing on August 11.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news