The Union Government has withdrawn its affidavit filed before the Karnataka High Court which stated that no public rally or gathering was held by BJP during the pandemic.
The Centre asked for liberty to file a fresh affidavit after the court pulled them up for making false statements, reported LiveLaw. The Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty reportedly said, “A very bold statement to make that this party has not conducted any road shows or gatherings. This is false. You better correct yourself. There are photographs of the events. You (BJP’s counsel) better take instruction or else this will be a false statement on oath. Not a single road show or gathering or public rally was held by you? Are you very serious about this statement?”
LiveLaw quoted the Chief Justice adding, “We expected you to take the lead and whenever you hold some function or rallies you lay down some norms for your party workers. That is not done by you.”
Observing the flawed affidavit, on March 1, the court ordered, “Learned Counsel appearing for the fifth respondent seeks permission to withdraw the affidavit filed on 26th February 2021 with a liberty to file a fresh affidavit. Though we are granting liberty to file a fresh affidavit, the original affidavit will remain on record and fresh affidavit shall be filed within one week.”
The Division Bench also directed the State Government to reveal the action taken against the violators of the Covid-19 norms in a rally held in Bengaluru on February 21, 2021. “A memo shall be filed by the State Government setting out the action taken against those who participated in the said rally and who violated the norms regarding use of mask and maintaining social distancing. We are informed that the rally was held demanding reservation for a particular class of society”, said the Bench.
The High Court was hearing a petition filed by an organisation “Letzkits Foundation”, that sought action against political parties which held public gatherings flouting Covid19 protocols related to wearing of face masks and social distancing.
In November last year, the court while hearing the same matter had observed various instances showing that in the political rallies organised by various political parties, there were large scale violations of the pandemic rules. The similar Bench had remarked, “Orders passed by this Court will show that either the State Government has taken no action or for the sake of showing that an action is taken, recovery of fine has been made only from few persons and that also very belatedly. Prima facie, we are of the view that it is the responsibility of all the political parties to join hands with the machinery of the State for strict implementation of the Rules regarding wearing of mask and maintaining social distancing. Time has come when even the political parties should take the responsibility to issue strict instructions to its party workers.”
The court had also allowed the petitioner organisation to implead Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Indian National Congress, Janata Dal (Secular) and Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha, as party respondents to ascertain their views on how they plan to deal with Covid19 norms during public rallies.
The matter is expected to be heard on March 12.
The orders may be read here: