New Delhi, July 20 | Defending its decision to relax lockdown norms for ‘Bakrid’ festivities, the Kerala government told the Supreme Court that the curbs had resulted in an economic slowdown, pushing the population in a lot of misery, and also caused immense distress among traders amid the holy festival of Muslims.
The Kerala government, in its affidavit, said, “It may be noted that the curbs and resultant economic slowdown have put the population in a lot of misery. Even though the state government has taken all possible steps to alleviate the same, the people have been frustrated by the curbs which have been in vogue for more than three months.”
Defending relaxation on Bakrid, the government said the traders were expecting that festival sales would alleviate their miseries to a certain extent and they had stocked up goods for this purpose much earlier. “The organisation of traders started to agitate against the stringent curbs implemented…and declared that they will open shops all over the state flouting regulations,” added the government, citing that even opposition political parties raised the traders’ issue.
The state government further added that the Indian Medical Association also registered their protest against the stringent curbs, and according to an expert group, the state said more relaxations can be extended to lockdown as the state is unlikely to face a strong third wave of the pandemic due to the fast and systematic vaccination. “The traders assured that the opening of shops will be strictly following Covid protocols and they are ready to follow the additional regulations ordered by the state”, said the government.
After forcing the Uttar Pradesh government to use its influence over religious bodies to postpone the annual ‘Kanwar Yatra’, a bench headed by Justice R.F. Nariman on Monday had asked the Kerala government for a response on a plea against relaxation of Covid curbs for Bakrid festivities. The top court will hear the matter today.
The application against the Kerala government decision to relax Covid curbs was moved by one P.K.D. Nambiar, a Delhi resident, in the suo motu case already initiated by the Supreme Court in connection with Uttar Pradesh government’s decision on Kanwar Yatra.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Nambiar, argued positivity rate in Kerala was 10.9 per cent, while in Uttar Pradesh it was only 0.042 per cent, when this court intervened in the Kanwar Yatra matter and expressed its discontent with the UP government’s decision to allow the yatra. Singh said the positivity rate in Delhi is merely 0.08 per cent and added that a positivity rate of over 5 per cent is certainly not good.
The application submitted that despite discontentment shown by the top court over the yatra, the Kerala government is acting in a casual manner by relaxing Covid norms. “To the utter dismay of India’s citizens, the Kerala government announced a 3-day relaxation of lockdown restrictions on July 18, 19 and 20 keeping in view the upcoming Bakrid festival,” said the plea.