May 12, 2021 12:45:43 am
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday adjourned a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) on Covid-19 upsurge and its management to May 17, while a division bench dismissed an anecdotal instance related to “inaccurate Covid-19 death classification” as “minor manipulations being done at the local level” which it cannot get into.
Senior advocate Shalin Mehta, highlighting the aspect of breaking the chain of transmission, requested the state to reconsider and reduce the limit of gathering of 50 persons for marriages and 20 persons for funerals. “Marriages can be suspended for 15 days… or even seven days… putting a halt to superspeader events will probably effectively break the chain… even for funerals we can do with (a limit) of five or 10 (persons)…,” said Mehta.
In an earlier order, a division bench headed by the Chief Justice had observed that the present measures taken by the state such as night curfew and shutdown of commercial activities are “not enough” and “further steps to break the chain” of Covid-19 infection are required.
Agreeing with his submission, Justice Bela Trivedi, heading the division bench, remarked that both 50 and 20 persons’ limit for marriages and funerals respectively, “is too much”.
Sharing a personal anecdote of a visit to the crematorium by Mehta owing to a Covid death in his family, while clarifying that he is “not blaming anyone”, Mehta said, “They told us we have to wait in a queue if it is a Covid-19 death… They told us that ‘you register this as a non-Covid death, you won’t have to wait for more than half an hour’. We said we can’t do it because the family was going to apply for insurance. We had to wait for 45 minutes to one hour… still I believe 20 people are not required at all.”
Justice Trivedi remarked, “We can’t go into the minor manipulations being done at the local level.”
Meanwhile, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi agreed that the cap of 50 persons in marriages “should be reduced” and that he will see to it that it is taken care of. With respect to cremations, the AG added that the state has been receiving representations seeking a greater cap and instead to see to it that Covid-appropriate SOP is maintained.
The PIL, registered in March and was being heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath until now, was changed on Tuesday due to the ongoing vacation at the Gujarat HC. The new bench comprises Justices Bela Trivedi and Bhargav Karia.
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