“Withdraw Adverts Inviting People To Kumbh”: Plea In Supreme Court Seeks Strict Adherence To Covid Protocols Amid Surge

  • Sakshi Shukla
  • 11:22 AM, 17 Apr 2021

Advocate Sanjai Kumar Pathak, has moved a PIL seeking immediate withdrawal of all advertisements inviting people to Haridwar for Kumbh and further direct the respondents to dissuade any gatherings in contravention with the COVID guidelines.

In the matter of Sanjai Kumar Pathak v. Union of India, Petitioner has approached the Top Court contending that while the State executive authorities are penalising ordinary citizens for not adhering with the COVID protocol, Government is permitting congregation of people in the events like Kumbh 2021.

“It is visible clear that two separate and mutually inconsistent standards are being adopted by the authorities in dealing with the citizens of India”, the plea states.

The petition highlights the carelessness of the Uttarakhand State authorities in facilitating and encouraging the Kumbh Mela, quoting the Chief Minister of the State; “Nobody will be stopped in the name of Covid-19 as we are sure the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus”

On 21.03.2021, 46941 new COVID cases were reported in India. Despite that, respondent 2 issued a full page advertisement to invite people to attend “clean and safe Kumbh” at Haridwar.

On 13.04.2021, statistics indicated 184372 new cases of the deadly virus, with Ministry of Health mandating a negative RT-PCR to attend Haridwar Kumbh but no protocol as such, to ensure that devotees who get infected at Haridwar do not go on to spread the virus when they return to their home districts.

On 15.04.2021, 2.16 lakh new COVID-19 cases reported.

“… it is axiomatic that the respondents have turned a blind eye towards the violation of Covid-19 guidelines at the Kumbh Mela and during election campaigns and rallies which have the potential to become super spreader events but common people on the street is being fined and challans are being issued. The discriminatory, arbitrary and selective application of COVID guidelines by the respondents is likely to result into a disaster”, plea further states.

Prayer has been sought to:

(1) To direct the respondents to withdraw all advertisements inviting people to Haridwar for Kumbh.

(2) To clear mass gatherings from Haridwar and prescribe protocols with respect to people returning from Kumbh.

(3) To dissuade any gatherings inconsistent with the COVID guidelines.

(4) To strictly enforce COVID guidelines in the State where elections are being conducted.

Case Title: Sanjai Pathak v. Union of India