There will be no lockdown in five top Uttar Pradesh cities for now. An order by the Allahabad High Court last evening, challenged by the UP government, has been paused by the Supreme Court. Uttar Pradesh has been asked to report to the High Court within a week the steps it has taken and plans to take to tackle the Covid surge.
The Allahabad High Court had ordered a lockdown till April 26 in Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur. The Yogi Adityanath-led government refused to enforce it last evening and approached the Supreme Court this morning.
The Uttar Pradesh government argued that locking down five cities by judicial order "may not be the right approach" and a "blanket lockdown imposed by the High Court in five cities would create immense administrative difficulties." It also said Allahabad High Court's order infringed upon the state government's domain.
"I share the concern of the court. Several steps have been taken," said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the UP government, but added that some of what had been ordered by the High Court was already in place.
The High Court, while ordering the cities to shut down, had said on Monday that the pandemic had "virtually incapacitated our medical infrastructure...especially in cities like Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur".
But the state government said such a lockdown was not needed and it had to protect both lives and livelihoods.
The High Court had also ordered a ban on social gatherings, religious activities, and said shops, educational institutions and shopping malls should be closed.
On a day UP reported a record 30,000-plus new cases in 24 hours, the court also ordered the shutting of all businesses barring those offering financial services, medical or health services, industrial and scientific establishments, and those providing essential services.
The Supreme Court will take up the case after two weeks. Senior lawyer PS Narasimha has been asked to assist the court.