Karnataka High Court Questions both the Centre and the State over Nikhil Kumaraswamy’s Wedding amidst COVID-19 Lockdown

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On 5th of May, 2020, the Karnataka HC sought clarifications from both the Central and State Governments on whether a wedding attended by approximately 90 people were permitted during the lockdown.

The Karnataka High court asked the State Government to specify the number of Movement Passes issued.

The Court was dealing with a petition that questioned the breach of social distancing guidelines at the wedding ceremony of Nikhil Kumaraswamy held on April 17.

Court’s Observation

A Division Bench of J. Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and J. BV Nagarathna ordered both the Centre and State to make statements on whether the Deputy Commissioner could allow a marriage gathering with attendees numbering 80 – 90 by granting permission.

The Court also wondered how the District Magistrate of Ramanagra District did not put a cap on the no. of wedding attendees. Observation of the report submitted by the Sub Inspector of Police, Bidadi Police Station, suggested that approx. 90 people attended the same. The report mentioned that thermal screening had been conducted.

The State argued that the DM had the power to permit marriages as well as funerals. The State relied on orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown. The Bench instead emphasized on the MHA order on May 1, which stated that marriage gatherings must follow social distancing. As per the order, the number of guests allowed could not be more than 50.

The Court warned the Government saying,

We make it clear that we are not on the issue of a function already held on 17th April 2020. Rather, the permission granted to such functions which will defeat the very object of imposing a lockdown’. It said that if the government’s policy is to allow such functions of 50+ attendees, it must say so in writing, so all citizens could enjoy the same.

The Court scheduled the matter for May 12.


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