Amidst rising covid-19 cases in the State and especially in Bengaluru Urban district, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the State government and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to ensure that surprise visits are undertaken in various establishments, hotels, restaurants and apartment complexes to ensure that directions are followed.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar said "There are instances in the city where residents of large complexes were tested positive due to functions held inside the complexes. It is stated that directions concerning restaurant and hotels are not being complied with; it is therefore all the more necessary for the state and BBMP to ensure that surprise visits are undertaken in various establishments including apartment complexes to ensure that directions are followed."
The Chief Secretary & Chairperson, State Executive Committee, SDMA, has directed the Commissioner, BBMP, Deputy Commissioners, and all authorities concerned to ensure strict compliance with various instructions.
It ordered the implementation of he existing regulations/orders regarding COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) by the Police authorities and local bodies such as the suspension of classes except for classes 10, 11 & 12 and classes due for Board/University examinations and of Health Science; avoid gatherings, functions, rallies, dharnas, congregations during religious festivals and jathras/fairs, etc; close common facilities and limit the number of persons in public bars, clubs, restaurants in the districts of Bengaluru Urban & Rural including BBMP, Mysuru, Kalburgi, Dakshin Kannada, Udupi, Bidar and Dharwad.
The bench also directed the State and BBMP to place on record the steps taken to implement orders dated March 23 and April 2, the violation of which would be proceeded against as per the provisions of Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Section 188 of IPC and Section 4, 5 and 10 of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020.
Advocate N P Amruthesh informed the court that due to representation made by persons of the film industry the order dated April 2, has been relaxed and 100 percent occupancy at theatres is allowed till today. He also submitted that the order regarding gyms has been modified and it is allowed to operate with 50 percent occupancy.
He said "If one by one lobby keeps giving such representation and the state government continues to accept it then no restrictions in the order will remain".
Following this, the court directed the State to place on record modified orders.
Advocate Venkatesh P Dalwai also informed the court that there is a restriction imposed of allowing certain functions to be held in closed areas where upto 200 persons are allowed and similarly 500 persons are allowed in open spaces. However, the size is not prescribed. He pointed out that a closed area like that of the size of a courtroom can also accommodate 200 persons in that case norms of social distancing will not be followed.
To which the court said "Prima facie counsel is right that when he submitted that the state govt has not defined the size of open spaces and closed areas. Unless size is prescribed the said restriction will not work. Even in very small closed areas functions will be held which will be attended by 200 persons." It added "In our view the state must step in immediately and issue a modified order".
As regards the issue of insurance cover for Advocates, the court directed the State government to convene a meeting on April 15, of officer bearers of Bar Association, State government officials, LIC and four public sector Insurance companies including New Indian Insurance company, to ascertain whether a scheme can be evolved for the benefit of Advocates. The court said "It will be advisable if the state government requests senior officers of IRDA to remain present."
The court will next hear the matter on April 16.