SC expresses concern over large gathering of farmers during COVID-19

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (PTI) The Supreme Court Thursday expressed concern over large gatherings of farmers protesting against the new farm laws at Delhi borders and asked the Centre whether they were “protected” against the spread of COVID-19.

The top court was hearing a plea seeking various reliefs including CBI probe into the matter related to assembly of people at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal and the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizammudin Markaz in the national capital after the nationwide lockdown was announced last year to contain the pandemic.

“The same problem is going to arise in farmers’ agitation. I do not know if farmers are protected from COVID. So, the same problem is going to arise. It is not that everything is over,” said Chief Justice S A Bobde, heading a bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The top court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, whether protesting farmers are protected from COVID-19.

Mehta replied, “Certainly not”.

Mehta said that he will file a report within two weeks on what has been done and what needs to be done. The plea, filed by lawyer Supriya Pandita, alleged that Delhi police had failed to control the congregation of people and the Nizamuddin Markaz chief Maulana Saad was still evading arrest.

Advocate Om Prakash Parihar, appearing for the petitioner, said that no statement has been made by the Centre about the whereabouts of Maulana Saad. The bench told Parihar, “Why are you interested in one person? We are on the issue of COVID. Why do you want controversy? We are interested that COVID guidelines should be there”.

The top court issued formal notice in the matter after which Mehta said that he will file a report in the matter. The Centre had on June 5 last year told the top court that probe into assembly of people at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal in east Delhi during nationwide lockdown and the Tablighi Jamaat event is being conducted on day-to-day basis by Delhi Police and there was no need for CBI investigation. PTI ABA MNL SJK SA