Kerala has been witnessing mass protests by Opposition parties across the state in the last few days over the controversial gold smuggling case.

Protestors trying to pull down barricades put up by policeAbout twenty people can be seen and most of them are wearing masks and face shield but they are not abiding physical distancing norms
news Court Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 09:09

Coming down on mass protests organised by the political parties in Kerala amidst the pandemic, the High Court on Tuesday said that all parties and associations have to strictly abide by the prevailing COVID-19 guidelines.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly, directed the government to take preventive measures to ensure that no political party or association violates the directives issued by the government and judgements of the Supreme Court. It also stated that the organisations should abide by both the Centre’s and state’s COVID-19 regulations while carrying out protests.

Kerala has been witnessing mass protests by Opposition parties Congress and BJP across the state over the last few days, against the ruling Left government in the context of the controversial gold smuggling case. The protests saw participation by a large number of party workers, who were mostly violating physical distancing norms. Most of the protests also ended in police using batons or water cannons to disperse the crowd.

The High Court gave the order on a plea seeking to prevent public protests and huge gatherings throughout the state, violating the COVID-19 protocols.

In the plea, a practicing lawyer alleged that the political parties and its associated organisations in Kerala were conducting mass protests throughout the state, violating the guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The court said the directives issued by the Central as well as state governments make it clear that the guidelines are intended to be strictly adhered to by all citizens, political parties and associations, the violation of which is punishable.

In the absence of any law on the subject, the Supreme Court has also issued guidelines under Article 142 of the Constitution, the court said in its order.

According to reports, in the petition filed by advocate John Numpeli Junior, CPM, Congress, BJP, LDF, UDF, and NDA were named as respondents. The court will consider the case again on Wednesday.

The opposition parties have been demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, over allegations that his office and other top officials of the state government have close links with accused persons in the gold smuggling case. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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Watch protests in Kerala over gold smuggling case:

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