As hundreds of farmers continue with their protest against the three farm laws in the national capital, the Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over the possible spread of COVID-19 and asked the Centre if they were taking precautionary measures against the pandemic.
“You must tell us what is happening? I don’t know if farmers are protected from COVID-19. Same problem may arise in the farmers’ protest too,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said during a hearing of a PIL seeking a CBI probe into Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz in March last year in violation of restrictions imposed due to COVID19.
The petitioners alleged the congregation led to faster spread of COVID-19 due to “inaction” on the part of the Centre and the Delhi government, putting others’ lives at risk.
As Solicitor General Tushar Mehta replied in the negative and said he will find out the status and file a report in two weeks, the Bench said it could give rise to a situation like Tablighi Jamaat event at Nizamuddin.
“We are trying to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread. Ensure guidelines issued are followed,” the CJI said.
The top court was hearing petitions challenging the validity of the three farm laws passed by Parliament last year.
One of the advocates said Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad was not traceable and his whereabouts were not known.
Granting time to the petitioners to file a rejoinder, the Bench said the matter will be taken up on Monday along with other petitions on the issue.
Noting that there was no improvement in talks between agitating farmers and the government, the top court had on Wednesday said it would take up petitions against farm laws and those against farmers’ protests on January 11.
“There is absolutely no improvement in the situation,” CJI Bobde had said during the hearing of a PIL by advocate ML Sharma on the issue.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the Bench, “There is a good chance that the parties may come to some conclusion in near future.”
The CJI – who had on December 17 indicated constituting a committee of independent and impartial persons, including agriculture experts, to end the stalemate between protesting farmers and the Centre – had said, “We understand the situation. We want to encourage the talks. We will keep the matter on Monday and will adjourn if you say so.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had pointed out that since healthy talks were going on between farmers and the Centre, it would not be advisable to take up the matter immediately.