Bench tells Police Commissioners to ensure everyone conforms to COVID-19 rules during relaxation time
Describing sudden imposition of 20-hours-per-day lockdown in the State as ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, the Telangana High Court on Tuesday said the government should have given more breathing time for people to pool up groceries and other essential commodities.
A bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy said that other States had given sufficient time for people before clamping lockdown, so that they made arrangements to meet the situation. The bench issued a slew of directions to Police Commissioners of Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda Anjani Kumar, V.C. Sajjanar and Mahesh Bhagwat respectively. They attended the court in virtual mode, after the bench advanced the hearing of PIL pleas on COVID-19 related issues from Thursday to Tuesday, taking into consideration the grave situation people were facing due to alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.
The bench made it clear to the three Commissioners covering entire State capital and surrounding localities that they should ensure everyone conformed with the COVID-19 rules during the lockdown relaxation time. “No further orders required to be passed in this regard,” the CJ said. The police must ensure all people adhered to COVID-19 related restrictions on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr as well. The bench directed the police to video record the festival celebrations on Friday at prominent places and present the same to the court while furnishing the next status report by May 17. Earlier in the morning, the bench expressed dissatisfaction over the response of the State machinery to check further spread of coronavirus in the State.
The bench said that the government presented a “rosy picture” claiming that everything was “hunky dory” while the “ground reality was completely different”. The government went to town tom tomming everything was safe. Media reports galore about violations of social distancing and wearing face masks especially in Old City of Hyderabad. What were the local police doing when social distance and face mask rules were being thrown to winds?, the bench said.
“We will hold the top officials responsible for this… buck should stop at the top officer,” CJ Hima Kohli observed, directing the three Commissioners to come back to it with plans of action to check violations of COVID-19 rules and congregations of people in the name of religion and festival. “Is religion more important than humanity?” the CJ said.
The bench said it had been receiving feedback about COVID-19 rule violations from different quarters and sections. Media reports also confirm those inputs. While night curfew begins at 9 p.m, people were congregating from 6 p.m. Owners of business establishments were continuing their activities even after 9 p.m. through the backdoor, the bench observed.
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