Coronavirus, Karnataka High court
Coronavirus, Karnataka High court
Litigation News

Who is going to regulate the congregations that may happen in large temples? Karnataka HC asks state in plea on social distancing norms

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court yesterday asked the state government about the various measures it has taken for the implementation of the latest COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on May 30. (Karnataka High Court - MHA order)

The questions were posed by the Court while it was dealing with a plea alleging that the National Directives for COVID-19 Management, part of the MHA guidelines issued on May 30, were not being followed in the state of Karnataka.

In this regard, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka posed the following questions to the state government:

"Who is going to regulate the congregations that may happen in large temples?

Suppose a citizen notices few people have thrown the social distancing norms to wind. Is there a toll free number for him to call?"

Subsequently, the Bench went on to direct the state government to place on record the following:

  • The measures taken for implementation of the May 30 MHA Guidelines.

  • The Standard Operating Procedure for opening of religious places and malls in the State

  • Explain what measures have been taken to enforce night curfew between 9 p.m and 5 a.m in the state

  • Whether a grievance redressal mechanism is made available for citizens to complain about violation of guidelines like social distancing, not wearing of mask by people.

  • Whether is it possible for a citizen to place a such complaint via mobile phone.

While passing the directions, the Court further articulated that,

"If you [State government] don't implement the MHA norms, it will be disastrous."

The matter will be next heard on June 12.

The petition has been filed by Letzkit Foundation, pointing out that the MHA had been issuing directions/guidelines from time to time, by which social distancing and usage of face masks were recommended.

"However, of recent, several restrictions are relaxed. But the restrictions as to maintenance of social distance introduced in the first of the notification is repeated in rest of the four notifications", the plea states.

Showing absolute disregard to these directions, several roadshows were being regularly conducted by various political groups/other individuals without practicing social distancing in Karnataka. Further such violations are taking place right under the nose of the police, the petition states.

Further, photographs were also produced with the petition to point out that children and elderly persons were seen at these gatherings.

On these grounds, the petition urged the Court to take action against those persons responsible for such roadshows and to also direct the state government to implement the latest MHA guidelines in letter and spirit.

Advocate Puthige R Ramesh will appear for the petitioners in the matter.

Kar HC - MHA order.pdf
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