HC scraps panel with Suvendu, forms new committee to monitor Covid protocols at Gangasagar
Calcutta High Court on Tuesday disbanded a committee it had constituted earlier with leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari as one of three members to monitor adherence to Covid-19 protocols at the Gangasagar Mela.
The division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava, instead, formed a new committee with two members — Justice (retired) Samapti Chatterjee and Raju Mukhopadhyay, a member secretary of the West Bengal Legal Services Authority.
The court scrapped the earlier panel in response to a prayer by the state government, which had raised objections to the inclusion of Adhikari. In its January 7 order, the court had said a government representative and the chairman of the state human rights commission would also be on the committee.
The committee will recommend to the state a ban on the entry to the Sagar Islands in case any protocol is violated or the gathering at the Mela is seen leading to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The government will have to take immediate action on the recommendations.
In the modified order, the bench has made negative RT-PCR tests and administration of both doses of Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for pilgrims to attend the Mela. One would have to produce a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours and the certificate of final vaccination to enter the Sagar Islands. The islands have been ordered to be declared as a notified area in accordance with the Gangasagar Mela Act 1976.
“Apart from that, the state government would have to follow all the guidelines regarding gathering of people at any spot and the Chief Secretary would be liable if there is any violation of court order,” the Chief Justice said.
Adhikari’s removal drew flak from BJP whose chief spokesperson in Bengal, Samik Bhattacharya, said the Opposition leader’s inclusion in the committee had wrongly been politicised by the Trinamul Congress.
“It is unfortunate that the court gave its order on the basis of what the government said. We hope the court will reconsider its decision,” Bhattacharya said.
Trinamul Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy shrugged off the BJP’s allegations and said the state government would abide by the court orders. Another Trinamul MP Sougata Roy said the BJP was trying to defy the court through those statements.