KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has directed the state government to strictly follow all the Covid protocols, guidelines, circulars and notifications during the swearing-in ceremony of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government on Thursday.
Issuing the order on a petition filed by Dr. KJ Prince, general secretary of Thrissur-based Chikitsaneethi, an organisation for protecting the health right of the citizen, the Kerala HC observed that dignity will not be lost when the swearing-in ceremony is witnessed from home. The court said that the political parties should decide as to whether all the MLAs are required to be present in the swearing-in ceremony.
The Division Bench observed that though states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, with more number of legislators in the Assembly, have performed the swearing-in ceremony with a lesser number, the government of Kerala, a forerunner in Covid management, should restrict the number to the maximum to avoid the spread Covid.
On the decision to allow 500 attendees to participate in the event, the court said if such a contention is accepted, then even marriages can be performed with the participation of 500 people with RT-PCR test conducted 48 hours before solemnisation of the marriage in any big Marriage Hall or open place, which can accommodate people more than 500. So also, the final rites and obsequies ceremonies, in the case of death. "We do not see any difference as to whether it is a government function," the court observed.
The High Court said that the political parties should decide as to whether all the MLAs are required to be present in the swearing-in ceremony. The spouses and relatives of all the MLAs, except the designated ministers, are not required to participate in the swearing-in ceremony. The ceremony can be viewed from the residence of the respective MLAs. The court observed that the spouses of the MLAs do not have to be present in the swearing-in ceremony. At the same time, it may be a proud moment, for the spouses or the relative of the designated ministers to be present in the ceremony.
"Why the spouses or relatives of each of the MLAs are required to be present in the ceremony and when they are not, indispensable, either for the performance of the ceremony or for witnessing. Considering the present Covid-19 Pandemic situation, velocity and vigour of the virus, test positivity rate in various districts and uncontrolled rise in the death, such persons ought not to have been included in the list of participants," the court said.
The court held that the Government officials required for the performance/participation in the ceremony alone shall be permitted. As the Government has not come out with the details of special invitees, other than the Judges, Secretaries to the Government up to the level of Principal Secretaries, Police officials up to the level of Additional Director General of Police, Senior Law Officers, the Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala should consider whether the presence of all the special invitees, including the member of the State Committee of the political parties is required to be present, given the utmost adverse situations prevailing due to the pandemic. The direction also applies to all the special invitees including persons who have contributed to the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund.