WHAT SOCIAL DISTANCING? A crowded market in Patna on Tuesday
PATNA: As Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Tuesday declared an 11-day lockdown (till May 15) in the state starting Wednesday after being pushed by the Patna high court a day earlier, the HC again pulled up the state government and asked the Centre’s additional solicitor general, K N Singh, to speak to the defence secretary regarding handing over the entire health infrastructure of the state to the Armed Forces Medical Services. The HC observed orally that it felt “ashamed” that it had reposed faith in the government this far and “continuously passed orders while people were dying”.
“Rather, we should have taken a proactive approach instead of believing in the state government’s assurances. We could not intervene properly to protect the fundamental right to life of the people,” a high court division bench observed.
Nitish’s lockdown decision came after the HC had said on Monday that the state government must declare a lockdown or the court would have to pass an appropriate order.
Bihar advocate general Lalit Kishore urged the court to give the state government a chance to submit an affidavit that it had done its best before passing any order. To this, the HC gave the state till 10.30am on Thursday to file the affidavit.
According to the state’s guidelines, all government offices — except district administration, police, fire services, civil defence, health, animal health, electricity supply water supply, disaster management, the treasury and its related offices in the finance department, telecommunications and post offices — will remain closed. Shops selling essential food items like groceries, vegetables, meats and fish, milk, and PDS stores will remain open between 7amto11ameveryday.