The AP High Court upheld the State Government’s decision to restrict mass gatherings during Ganesh Chaturthi. The reason being the likely third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as to curb any potential spread of the disease. The High Court made it clear that the government’s guidelines against public celebrations should not be contravened and must strictly be adhered to.
Following the AP State Government’s decision on the restriction of public gatherings and implementation of Covid-19 protocols, for the ensuing Ganesh Chaturthi, a batch of petitions were filed before the court questioning the guidelines. The Court held the State and ordered it to submit its response.
On 7 September 2021, the State in an affidavit submitted to the Honourable High Court that the guidelines are being implemented for every religious event. It also went on to explain that the State has accorded no permissions for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in public places.
The memorandum by the State Government explains that all preparations have been made to face the possible third wave of Covid-19 and medical infrastructure facilities have been improved. It also explained that the State was collecting a fine of Rs.100 for individuals not wearing a mask in public and fined Rs.10,000 to Rs.25,000 to commercial establishments allowing people without masks. Giving details and statistics, regarding the vaccination exercise, the State submitted to the Court that the enforced guidelines were necessary to control the spread of Covid-19.
While the apex court called for strict adherence to State observed guidelines, it also permitted a petitioner to install an idol in his house.
This decision was taken by Justice Cheekati Manavendranath Roy, on examining a writ petition filed by a resident of Autonagar in Tirupati. The petitioner had approached the AP High Court after his plea was denied by the Superintendent of Police (SP). The Court permitted him to install an idol adhering to all the State guidelines in the presence of not more than five people.