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Karnataka HC Refuses To Interfere In Govts Decision To Allow Supermarkets Stay Open 24×7

The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday disposed of the petition seeking quashing of the order passed by Director General and Inspector General of Police, State of Karnataka allowing super markets to function 24×7 in the State and restrict their working hours.

In the petition, the objections were raised before the bench comprising of Chief Justice Abhay. S. Oka and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, Karnataka High Court by the petitioner “Sandhya U. Prabhu” on allowing of supermarkets to function 24×7 and permitting the use of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses for facilitating transport of people for ensuring that a provision is made for rendering essential services.

The respondents were the State of Karnataka represented by its Chief Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Karnataka Government, Director General and Inspector General of Police, Bangalore, whereas the order of allowing super markets to function 24×7 was issued by the respondent Director General and Inspector General of Police, Bangalore.

Submissions made by the petitioner was that if the super markets are kept open 24×7, large number of people will enter the super markets and will touch the articles which are displayed for sale and this will result in spread of Covid-19. She added further that the working hours of super markets will have to be restricted.

As per her second objection about permitting the use of BMTC buses she said that cleanliness is not maintained in BMTC buses and if permission to travel is granted to 20 passengers in a bus, it will again result in spread of Covid-19 and therefore, number of passengers should be reduced.

Whereby, the High Court held that it is the duty of the State Government and Central Government to ensure the uninterrupted supply of grocery and other essential articles to the citizens and depending upon the circumstances and local situation, it is for the Authorities of the State to take a decision regarding the time during which grocery shops and super markets can be kept open.

Thereafter, the court did not find anything arbitrary in the decision of the Respondent Director General and Inspector General of Police, Bangalore, in keeping the shops open 24×7 and therefore, no interference was made by the High court in the writ jurisdiction.

In the view of the second objection the petitioner made regarding use of BMTC buses for transportation of persons for ensuring that a provision is made for rendering essential services, the Karnataka High court said that the Government employees and for the employees of the local authorities, who are working in the Departments providing essential services, transport arrangement has to be made by the Authorities. It is obvious that necessary measures by the State Authorities are being taken for maintaining social distancing while traveling is allowed by BMTC buses.

“Needless to add that all precautions will have to be taken while operating the buses and norms of social distancing will have to be strictly observed. However, we do not find per se anything wrong, arbitrary or illegal in the decision taken to allow BMTC buses to be used for transportation of persons who are connected with providing the essential services. Therefore, no case is made out to entertain this petition and the same is accordingly disposed of,” held by the court.

-India Legal Bureau

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