HC asks whether COVID-19 advisories can be enforced under law

Observing that loopholes in notifying COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and other norms should not become a defence to those who breach the norms, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to clarify whether advisories issued by the State police chief and the Commissioner of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are enforceable in law.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy passed the order while asking the State government about measures taken for enforcing the SOPs issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for operating places of worship, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.

Pointing out that penal action under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act could be initiated only if the advisories are issued by the competent authorities as per the DM Act, the bench said that the advisories issued by the State police chief and the BBMP Commissioner do not indicate that they were issued under this law.

Meanwhile, the bench granted time to the Central government to show that the SOPs issued form part of the COVID-19 guidelines issued under the DM Act by the competent authority. The bench was hearing a PIL petition.

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Sagar Biswas

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