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PIL on Covid ‘double standards’

The plea questions the alleged discrimination by officials while dealing with people violating protocols on roads and those flouting it at the Kumbh or poll rallies
The PIL filed by advocate Sanjai Kumar Pathak has questioned the alleged double standards being adopted by the authorities while dealing with the common man for violating Covid protocols on the streets and those flouting the norms at the Kumbh and poll rallies.
The PIL filed by advocate Sanjai Kumar Pathak has questioned the alleged double standards being adopted by the authorities while dealing with the common man for violating Covid protocols on the streets and those flouting the norms at the Kumbh and poll rallies.
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Our Legal Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 22.04.21, 01:53 AM

A PIL has urged the Supreme Court to direct the Centre, the Election Commission of India and others to strictly implement the guidelines of the Disaster Management Act restricting people from congregating at the Kumbh Mela and election rallies in view of the massive surge in Covid cases.

The PIL filed by advocate Sanjai Kumar Pathak has questioned the alleged double standards being adopted by the authorities while dealing with the common man for violating Covid protocols on the streets and those flouting the norms at the Kumbh and poll rallies.

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The petition said such discrimination by the State was a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and personal liberty).

Citing the over two lakh Covid-19 cases being reported across the country over the past one week, the petitioner has submitted that the “… health infrastructure is crumbling in many states. Hospitals and crematoriums are running out of space. Shortage of essential drugs is reported from many cities.

“…Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Bengal Assembly elections are being held. The respondent no. 4 (ECI) has not been able to enforce the Covid-19 rules and regulations during the political rallies and campaigning.

“The respondent no. 2, the home minister, the chief ministers of respective states and host of star campaigners can be seen flouting the Covid-19 norms.” 

The petition further said that as India witnesses its highest surge in Covid cases since the onset of the pandemic, visuals have surfaced of lakhs of people crowding in Haridwar for the Kumbh Mela and at election rallies in states, ignoring the most basic Covid protocols.

“Even though the disease is currently spreading at breakneck speed across the country, the Indian Railways has organised 25 special trains to… link Haridwar Kumbh Mela to various locations for the pilgrims… Union health minister blamed the heightened spread of Covid-19 on ordinary citizens, saying that they ‘became very careless’ and were no longer following social distancing norms,” the PIL stated. 

“On the one hand, poor common man on the street is often punished and treated violently by the police and executive authorities for individual violations of Covid-19 rules and regulations in the name of strict enforcement, on the other hand, the authorities are not only permitting but facilitating and promoting congregation of people in the events like Kumbh-2021 and election rallies. It is visibly clear that two separate and mutually inconsistent standards are being adopted by the authorities in dealing with the citizens of India,” the petition added.

Therefore, the PIL, among other things, urged the apex court to direct the government to immediately withdraw all advertisements inviting people to the Kumbh, to clear the mass gathering from Haridwar city and provide a safety protocol for people returning from the Kumbh. It wanted the authorities to identify the violators of Covid guidelines during the election and take action besides ensuring uninterrupted supply of crucial drugs to hospitals and provisions for free distribution of masks.



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