Former law minister seeks SC's intervention in handling surge in COVID cases

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New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) With India reporting over two lakh fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Ashwani Kumar wrote to the Supreme Court seeking its suo motu intervention in addressing the challenge.

In his letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Kumar demanded a ban on all political and religious functions.

'Considering the gravity of the threat to human life and the constitutional responsibility cast upon this court to protect and secure the lives of citizens, the court may issue suo-motu directions to the central and state governments to ban political rallies, protest assemblies, religious and festive congregations of more than 50 people until the situation is under control,' he wrote to the CJI.

Kumar also sought a ban on the export of COVID vaccines and permitting the import of vaccines after ensuring their efficacy to treat the viral disease.

'The court may issue suo motu directions to make the vaccines available to all age groups and to facilitate in-situ vaccination as far as possible, but especially of the old and the infirm,' he said.

The former Union law minister said the apex court should take judicial notice of the extraordinary threat to human lives in the country following a devastating surge in coronavirus cases.

He cited the Kumbh Mela being held in Uttarakhand's Haridwar as a super-spreader event, where almost 2,000 people have tested positive for the deadly virus. Besides, he also mentioned the massive rallies being organised by political leaders in poll-bound states while flouting the COVID rules.

Noting that festivals have also been celebrated, where there have been gatherings in huge numbers, once again flouting the COVID rules, Kumar said such events have contributed significantly to the resurgence of coronavirus cases throughout the country.

'Even so, no purposive and effective action has been taken by the central and state governments on a uniform basis across the country to stop such gatherings. There is laxity even in enforcing the limited restrictions announced by some of the state governments from time to time,' he said.

The Congress leader said apart from banning such events forthwith, the situation demands an immediate halt to the export of vaccines in view of the number of cases continuing to rise in the country and many citizens being denied the urgent use of the vaccines.

'The need for easy access to vaccines for all citizens of all ages as a protection against the deadly virus is self-evident,' the senior advocate said.

He said the country expects that the top court, as the designated protector of fundamental rights, will exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction in these troubled times and vindicate its role as the custodian of the constitutional conscience. PTI SKC RC ANB ANB