The Karnataka High Court on Monday expressed serious displeasure after the state government once again failed to provide details of number of movement passes issued to guest who attended at the wedding ceremony of Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son for former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhya Oka and Justice B V Nagarathan observed :
"Suffice it to say that notwithstanding several orders, the State Government has failed to come out with a clear factual stand and the State is not willing to accept the errors committed by its officers."
The court termed the stand taken by the state in its written submission as 'Shocking'.
The goverment has claimed that not satisfied with the application made by the organizer of the function (Former Chief Minister, H D Kumaraswamy) on April 15, for granting permission to hold the marriage ceremony, the Deputy Commissioner made a request to the organizers to send another letter seeking permission specifying that the number of guests would not exceed one hundred.
Additional Advocate General even argued before the court that since most of the guests who attended the wedding ceremony are covered by various categories of security, such as 'Y' or 'Z', they did not require the passes.
"However, the State has not come out clearly whether only those guests who have been given 'Y' or 'Z' category of security traveled from one district to another district for attending the marriage," the bench said.
The court said "Firstly, this letter has not seen the light of the day for several weeks after this Court started dealing with the issue. Existence of such a letter was not pleaded by the State Government in its earlier written submissions. Secondly, we fail to understand why the Deputy Commissioner became so proactive and requested the organizer to submit one more application specifying that the number of guests would not exceed one hundred. In case of an application made by a common man, we are sure that the Deputy Commissioner would not have gone out of the way by calling for another application."
Earlier the state had taken a stand that that only in the month of May, 2020, that the Central Government through its Ministry of Home Affairs restricted the number of guests to fifty, and prior to that, there was no upper limit fixed. The Deputy Commissioner could grant permission.
The court said "The policy of the Central Government will become arbitrary and irrational as it will mean that in April, 2020, it was possible for the Deputy Commissioners to grant permission for holding of marriage ceremony even if one thousand guests were to attend."
.The court concluded by saying that "Even after several orders are passed, the State Government is not coming out with the truth and now for the first time, after few weeks, an attempt is made to rely upon the second letter dated 15th April, 2020. We are dealing with very serious issues of hunger, issues of marginalized sections of the society, issues of migrant workers who are stranded in the streets, etc. While we record that the State has not come out with a correct factual stand regarding the wedding and there is an attempt to keep back certain material from the Court, we do not propose to waste any further time of the Court on this issue as on today."
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