Mumbai: Raising concern over increasing crowds with the easing of lockdown restriction and oncoming festivals, the Bombay High Court said that if immediate steps were not taken to control the situation then things would get worse just as they had before the second wave.
The court observed: “Considering the prevailing situation of uncertainty and ensuing festivities, we face a threat to humankind.”
A full bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta ad Justices Amjad Sayed, KK Tated and Prasanna Varale asked the authorities and citizens to learn from earlier mistakes and not be complacent since according to the experts the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was “knocking at our doors”.
The administrative committee of the HC had a meeting on Monday with lawyers’ bar associations and experts. Chief Justice said: “In our meeting of the administrative committee of HC, lawyers and other experts held on Monday an expert Dr Rahul Pandit, who heads the Special Task Force appointed by the Supreme Court informed that the third wave of the pandemic is knocking at our doors.”
The court also pointed out that Dr Pandit suggested that the country will have to follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour till at least April 2022.
“Unless Covid appropriate behaviour is followed, the state will face imminent danger. Dr Pandit is of the view that at least till the end of April 2022, the nation may not get rid of the ill effects of the Covid,” said CJ.
The court also said that photographs published in various newspapers show crowds assembling at beaches in Mumbai like Juhu Chowpatty, Girgaum Chowpatty and Marine Drive.
Warning the authorities to control crowds in the city, the judges said: “If you (government) do not control or restrict this then again the same situation is bound to happen. We need to draw from our experience.”
Last year, the HC had taken up a suo moto (on its own) PIL last year and stayed demolitions and evictions after nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 brought everything to a standstill including the functioning of courts.
The court extended the stay till September 30 observing: “We are of the view that interest of justice would be served if protective orders are extended till the end of September.”
Earlier this month, the HC had said it was not inclined to extend the protective order since things had started to normalize and courts had started physical hearings.
However, on Tuesday, the court said that the threat was still looming of the third Covid wave and continue the protective orders. The judges have clarified that if any litigant or authority seeks to take any action in an emergency situation, they can approach before the regular bench dealing with that matter.
The full bench will assemble on September 24 to review the situation and pass necessary orders.