Restrict ‘social interaction and footfall’ at religious places: HC to govt

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday directed the government to restrict social interaction and footfall at various religious places to stop spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Hearing a public-interest litigation in this regard through video-conferencing, Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal directed that restrictions be put in place at religious places including Hazratbal Shrine, Jamia Masjid Srinagar, Chatti Padshahi Gurdwara, Ragunath Mandir Jammu, Kheer Bhawani Ganderbal, Catholic Church Srinagar, and Sharada Sharief.
The bench, though, observed that the court has no expertise to impose restrictions on such gatherings as it is the duty of the administration.
The Department of Health and Medical education today filed a report indicating measures taken to stop the spread of the virus and informed the court about overall measures taken from a medical point of view.
The court directed the department to carry on with the exercise and asked all Deputy Commissioners to implement regulations and set up management cells, if needed, to contain the spread of the virus.
The bench observed that awareness and sanitisation can go a long way in fighting this deadly virus.
The court also took note of prisoners’ health and hygiene in jails and directed the Director General Prisons to inform the court as to what steps have been taken with regard to isolation wards and medical facilities in jails in case any prisoner is suspected of the disease.
The court asked the DG prisons to make arrangements of video-conferencing for trial of prisoners and not bring them to courts till the situation gets under control.
The court also directed the Government of Union Territory of Ladakh to ensure representation of counsel and report steps taken so far as there was no presence in the court on behalf of Ladakh UT in today’s proceedings.
Litigant Azra Ismail had through a PIL sought effective preventive measures to combat the epidemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Jammu and Kashmir.

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