Karnataka HC dismisses petition to quash govt order allowing Supermarkets to remain open 24×7

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The Karnataka HC dismissed a petition seeking to quash the government order which allowed supermarkets to stay open 24×7.

In the said petition, it was argued that if supermarkets were allowed to remain open 24 x 7, many people would gather together and touch the various items on display. Due to this, the virus could spread, and hence the working hours of the supermarket should be restricted and supervised. In the same petition, the petitioner challenged the working of BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) buses for transporting people across the city.

In this regard, the Court held that “….it cannot be disputed that for the Government employees and for the employees of the local authorities, who are working in the Departments providing essential services, transport arrangement has to be made by the Authorities. It is obvious from Annexure ‘D’ that necessary measures are being taken for maintaining social distancing while travelling is allowed by BMTC buses. It is stated in Annexure ‘D’ that only 20 passengers can travel by BMTC buses at a time.”

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The Court did not find anything illegal in the decision to allow these buses to function and to be used as an active means of transportation for those providing essential services.

Another petition was sought in which it was argued that print, news, and digital media were committing offences that are punishable under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act 2005. However, it was noted that the petitioner had not moved the relevant authorities under the 2005 Act or the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 before approaching the writ court. Hence, this petition was not entertained.

The Karnataka HC dismissed another petition wherein a direction was sought to the State Government to drop the migrant workers home once they were tested negative for Coronavirus. It relied on the Standard Operating System and stated that a group of migrants who wished to go home must be transported back home, must be allowed to do so once they are screened and are asymptomatic. The petition held that the fundamental rights of the migrant workers cannot be withheld by the government or the court.

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In this regard, the Bench held that the Court is dealing with extraordinary situations arising out of the spread of COVID-19. Also, the petitioner has not challenged the earlier order dated 29th March 2020 which enjoins the State and Union Territory Governments to ensure that migrants who are away from their homes must be kept in quarantine facilities.

Moreover, clarification was given concerning the monitoring of these shelters.

In regards to the Centres’ Standard Operating System, the Court opined that The Standard Operating System ensures that those who wish to go back home, within the State, would be screened and those who are asymptomatic would be transported to their place of work. It also ensures that migrant workers would get employment at their place of work. No movement outside the State would be permitted.

The court thus refrained from entertaining these petitions.


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