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Are Covid norms in place at protest sites, SC asks Centre

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde was hearing a plea which sought action against authorities for allowing the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz amidst the pandemic last year.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: January 8, 2021 2:02:07 am
Farmer leaders hold a press conference at Singhu Border. (Express Photo: Gajendra Yadav/File)

THE SUPREME COURT on Thursday sought to know from the Centre if Covid-19 safety protocols were being followed at the venues of the farmers’ protests at the Delhi borders and expressed concern that it could lead to a situation similar to what allegedly happened after the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the national capital in March last year.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde was hearing a plea which sought action against authorities for allowing the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz amidst the pandemic last year. Many of those who attended the event had later tested positive for Covid-19.

“You must tell us what is happening. I don’t know if farmers are protected from Covid-19. Same problem may arise in the farmers’ protest too,” CJI Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. “We are trying to ensure that Covid-19 does not spread. Ensure guidelines issued are followed.”

The bench also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramainan asked the Centre to file a report on what was being done to ensure that the safety protocols were being followed.

The plea by Jammu-based lawyer Supriya Pandita has raised questions on the role of the Centre, Delhi government and Delhi Police for allowing the March 2020 convention, thereby risking the health of the people at a time the country was battling Covid-19. The petition also referred to the large gathering of people wanting to cross state borders at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal during the lockdown and contended that adequate steps were not taken to prevent this.

The Supreme Court is also seized of another petition by a law student, Rishabh Sharma, who has sought a direction to immediately remove the farmers to a designated place in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and hardships to commuters.

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