The High Court of Karnataka on Friday quashed a case against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar in relation to violation of Covid-19 restrictions, during the Mekedatu Padayatra in January 2022, when they were in opposition.
The case against the two Congress leaders and several others was filed under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act and the IPC, which was challenged before the HC.
Justice M Nagaprasanna noted that the state government had not issued any notification under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act barring padayatra and such activities.
The HC also quashed four other proceedings against Shivakumar -- who is also the state Congress chief -- that were initiated against him under the same Epidemic Diseases Act.
“The notification which the State relies upon is the one issued under the Disaster Management Act and not under the Epidemic Diseases Act. Therefore unless notification under Epidemic Diseases Act is issued barring such activities, taking recourse to the Disaster Management Act and bringing it into Epidemic Diseases Act is unavailable,” the HC said in its order quashing the case.
The complaint against Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar along with eleven others was filed by the tahsildar of Ramanagara on January 12, 2022. It was alleged that they had violated the Government orders and went ahead with the padayatra without permission.
A local magistrate had taken cognizance of the crime and initiated proceedings.
The Congress, then in opposition, had staged a padayatra demanding the implementation of the Mekedatu reservoir project across the Cauvery river, near Kanakapura in the Ramanagara district.
Quashing the case, the HC said, “The registration of the case and the filing of the charge sheet by the police for violation of Epidemic Diseases Act is rendered unsustainable. All other offences alleged under IPC are offshoots of Section 5 of the Epidemic Diseases Act. That having been rendered unsustainable, all other offences would also follow suit.”
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