Karnataka HC directs state govt to prevent political rallies during Pandemic
Chief Justice Ritu Raju Awasthi headed the bench directed the state government to implement SOP in letter and spirit while hearing public interest litigation, which seeking ban of Mekedatu Padayatra.
Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has directed the state government not to allow political rallies, mass gatherings, padayatra, public meetings. Court has also directed the state to strictly enforce standard operating procedure (SOP).
Chief Justice Ritu Raju Awasthi headed the bench directed the state government to implement SOP in letter and spirit while hearing public interest litigation, seeking a ban on Mekedatu Padayatra organized by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
Additional Advocate General and Counsel appearing for KPCC submitted to the bench that Padayatra has been suspended temporarily.
KPCC has filed the objection to the court that it has suspended the Padayatra keeping into consideration of health and safety of the people during the Covid pandemic. Taking note of the objections, the court has directed the government to no political rallies or padayatra should be permitted during the pandemic, it has ordered the government to strictly follow the SOP.
When the matter was come up for hearing on Wednesday, the court has come down heavily on the government and KPCC for not following the SOP. Court has asked for details from the respondents regarding the implementation of SOP and it has also sought information from KPCC whether it has taken prior permission to conduct Padayatra or not.
The Court had questioned the COVID protocol compliance in a padayatra the Congress party was conducting. It had asked the respondents to answer by Friday.
Congress has launched Mekedatu Padayatra on January 9 in the name of Namma Neeru, Namma Hakku. KPCC has proceeded with Padayatra despite government-issued guidelines banning all types of public gatherings, meetings, padayatra and rallies.
Following public criticisms and the court’s intervention, Congress leaders have decided to call off their Padayatra temporarily. Padayatra was reached Ramanagara on the fifth day. However, it was cancelled due to a surge in Covid cases across the state. Even the court has also indicated that it would pass appropriate order on the petition.
The PIL filed through advocate Shridhar Prabhu had sought a direction to State authorities not to allow any political rallies, dharnas and protest gatherings and restrain the ruling party in the State going on with the Padayatra given the surge in COVID cases.
Senior Counsel A.S. Ponnanna appeared for KPPC and AAG R Subramanya represented the Karnataka government.