SC seeks Kerala govt's reply as Delhi resident challenges lockdown relaxations ahead of Bakrid

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Kerala government's response on a plea challenging the state's decision to relax COVID-induced lockdown restrictions for three days beginning Sunday in view of the Bakrid festival.

After the counsel appearing for Kerala said he would file reply to the application, the bench asked him to do so during the day and said it would take up the matter for hearing as first item on Tuesday.

The intervention application has been 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'.

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, 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.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh appeared for the petitioner before the top court.

Nambiar contended that Kerala has been showing alarming numbers in COVID-19 cases, though other states have improved their situation.

"It is shocking that in a medical emergency, the government is playing with the lives of citizens through such measures. That the government's move is in total contravention with the July 16 order passed by this court", the plea added.

The matter came up for hearing in the apex court before a bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai.

On July 16, the top court had pointed out that fear of a third COVID-19 wave looms large over all Indians as it asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reconsider its decision on a physical Kanwar Yatra. On Uttar Pradesh government's symbolic Kanwar Yatra proposal, the court had replied, "the right to life is paramount" and asked the government to reconsider its position on the annual ritual that sees a heavy movement of pilgrims across the states in the northern belt.

On July 17, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the concessions at a press conference and said that in view of Bakrid (Eid-ul-Azha) being celebrated on July 21, textiles, footwear shops, jewellery, fancy stores, shops selling home appliances and electronic items, all types of repairing shops and shops selling essential items shall be allowed to open on July 18, 19 and 20 from 7am to 8pm in category A, B and C areas.

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