Karnataka High Court pulls up Belagavi Police Commissioner for failing to act against BJP big guns attending rallies

Shankar RajUpdated: Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 10:44 PM IST
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Union Home Minister Amit Shah attended the rally in violation of Covid norms | File Photo

Bengaluru, May 25: The Karnataka High Court Tuesday pulled up the Police Commissioner of Belagavi for failing to register First Information Reports (FIR) against senior BJP leaders and others who attended a huge political rally in Belagavi in violation of Covid norms. Union Home Minister Amit Shah attended the rally.

The meeting was organised by the BJP on January 17 this year at the Belagavi District Stadium in which thousands of people participated in violation of physical distancing Covid-19 guidelines.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Suraj Govindaraj castigated the Police Commissioner for approaching the issue in a casual manner, according to a report by Bar & Bench.

The court, in its order, said: “Perhaps the Commissioner was unaware about the provisions of said regulation made under the of Act of 2020 (Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act). Perhaps the Commissioner is not aware of the said order as the State government has not complied with directions issued under the order dated April 15...

“...The Commissioner has relied upon photographs in an envelope annexed as R2. The photo shows that without maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, there was a huge congregation on January 17. The affidavit of the Commissioner shows that not a single FIR was registered against violators. Reading the affidavit as a whole, we find that the Commissioner approached the matter very casually. A large gathering came together in Belagavi where rules regarding wearing masks and social distancing were thrown to the wind. The Commissioner seems to be satisfied with the recovery of a fine of Rs 20,900. We direct the Commissioner to explain why no FIRs were registered for violation of the Act of 2020 and Rules framed thereunder."

The Court did not name Shah. The observation on the FIRs was made while hearing a plea moved by Letzkit Foundation, seeking strict implementation of Covid-19 norms in the State.

The court was of the view that the State government had not complied with the Court's previous orders. In its earlier order, the Court had held that compounding fee for violation of social distancing norms must be recovered not just from the organizer of a congregation or rally, but also from every participant of the same.

Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act of 2020 as well as Court orders have a direct nexus to the spread of Covid in the State, the court said.

Said the bench: “There are various directions issued under order dated April 15; the State government has not reported compliance with said directions. The directions are essentially issued to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act 2020 and regulations framed thereunder. Compliance has direct nexus with the spread of Covid-19 cases. Moreover, the direction contained in para 2 of the order dated 22 April has not been complied with. We grant time till June 3 to the State government for reporting compliance.”

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