'This Is False' : Karnataka HC On BJP's Affidavit Claiming That No Public Gatherings Were Held During COVID19
The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) on Wednesday withdrew an affidavit filed by it before the Karnataka High Court in which it stated that no public rally or gathering was held by the party during the COVID-19 pandemic times.This happened after the Court warned that there will be action for perjury for making a false statement on affidavit."A very bold statement to make that this party has...
The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) on Wednesday withdrew an affidavit filed by it before the Karnataka High Court in which it stated that no public rally or gathering was held by the party during the COVID-19 pandemic times.
This happened after the Court warned that there will be action for perjury for making a false statement on affidavit.
"A very bold statement to make that this party has not conducted any road shows or gatherings. This is false. You better correct yourself. There are photographs of the events", a bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay S Oka told the counsel representing the BJP.
"You (Counsel for BJP) better take instruction or else this will be a false statement on oath. Not a single road show or gathering or public rally was held by you?Are you very serious about this statement?", CJ Oka asked.
"We expected you to take the lead and whenever you hold some function or rallies you lay down some norms for your party workers. That is not done by you", the CJ added.
The counsel for the BJP then informed the court that he would like to withdraw the affidavit and file a fresh affidavit.
Following this, the bench ordered :
"Counsel appearing for the fifth respondent seeks permission to withdraw the affidavit filed on 26th February 2021 with a liberty to file a fresh affidavit. Though we are granting liberty to file a fresh affidavit, the original affidavit will remain on record and a fresh affidavit shall be filed within one week."
The bench was hearing a petition filed by an NGO 'LetzKits Foundation', which is seeking action against political parties which held public gatherings in violations of COVID19 protocols relating to wearing of face masks and keeping of social distancing.
The bench also directed the State Government to place on record action, if any, taken against the violators of the norms in a rally held in the City of Bengaluru on 21st February 2021.
"A memo shall be filed by the State Government setting out the action taken against those who participated in the said rally and who violated the norms regarding use of mask and maintaining social distancing. We are informed that the rally was held demanding reservation for a particular class of society", the bench ordered.
The court also directed the petitioner to place on record the names and addresses of the office bearers of the ninth respondent (Janata Dal (S)) so that appropriate action can be initiated against them on their failure to respond to the notice of the court.
The matter will next be heard on March 12.
The Court had earlier directed the State government to inform whether it will take action against Member of Parliament Tejasvi Surya and other political leaders who have violated COVID-19 norms by not wearing face masks during political rallies.
The state government has filed an affidavit saying that it was never its intention to prosecute or imprison persons who were found not wearing masks in public places or not maintaining social distance under the stringent provisions of section 5 of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act.
The State further said "It is the uniform policy of the state that it does not intend to prosecute mask/social distancing violators, with such harsh punishment and it is deemed sufficient that the fine of Rs 250/100, would suffice for such offences. In this regard it is further submitted that the true intention of the government would be inferred from the more stringent fines that have been prescribed under regulations 3, from owners of public places and organisers of public functions."
It was also stated that an Ordinance will soon be issued amending the existing provisions of the Act, to ensure that its (state governments) policy is accurately reflected in the legal provisions.
Today, the Court directed the State Government to respond on whether it has framed any Rules or Regulations prescribing the fine as provided under sub-section (3A) added to Section 5 of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The Government is also to state whether a notification has been issued by the State Government in terms of substituted Section 10 notifying the amounts which are required to be paid for compounding of the offences punishable under sub-section (3A) of Section 5 of the Principal Act.
The Government submitted a copy of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020, which provides for punishment by way of fine instead of imprisonment for violation of COVID19 norms.
By way of amendment to section 5, after sub-section (3), the following has been inserted, namely:- "(3A) whoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall be punished with such fine as may be prescribed in rules or in regulations, which may extend to fifty thousand rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three months or with both."
(ii) in sub-section (4), the figure and brackets "(1)" shall be omitted.
Secondly, it has brought in substitution to section 10 of the Principal Act. The amended section shall now read as "10. Composition of certain offences.- (1) Any offence punishable under the provisions of sub-section (3A) of section 5 committed before or after commencement of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020 may either before or after institution of prosecution be compounded by such officer authorised by the Government, on payment of such amount as may be notified by the Government. On such compounding, an offender, if in custody, shall be discharged and no further proceedings shall be taken against him in respect of such offence.
(2) Any offence punishable under sub-section (4) of section 5, committed before or after the commencement of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020 may be compounded with permission of the court, by a person against whom such act of violence is committed."
Before the amendment, as per Section 5 of the Act,anyone who contravenes the regulations/orders and directions issued can be imprisoned to a period of minimum three months which can be extended upto five years and with a fine which may be not less than Rs 50,000 and may extend upto Rs 2Lakh.