File image of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
A Kerala-based lawyer has written to state’s High Court Chief Justice S Manikumar seeking suo motu proceedings regarding the scheduled swearing-in of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his cabinet ‘to protect the lives of the citizens' amid COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government will be sworn in for the second consecutive term at a function scheduled to be held at Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram at 3: 30 pm on May 20 allowing not more than 500 people who have received both doses of the vaccine and have a COVID-19 negative certificate.
Advocate Anil Thomas has written in his letter that it is ‘paradoxical’ that the caretaker chief minister is planning a huge swearing-in ceremony for his cabinet of ministers at a public place in one of the most populated areas of Thiruvananthapuram district, where in the 'triple lockdown' has been imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to legal news website LiveLaw.in.
In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases, four Kerala districts, including Thiruvananthapuram, were placed under a restrictive ‘triple lockdown’ for a week starting May 17. All social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural and religious gatherings are barred, as per the guidelines. All weddings, funerals and other public and private functions will be deferred. Those with dates decided before the lockdown can go ahead with a maximum of 20 people in attendance.
“The latest statistics show that high intensity of COVID-19 cases in the state of Kerala has resulted in 6339 deaths… Irrespective of such a desperate scenario, the caretaker CM has mobilized the state machinery to issue orders for the unlawful assembly of his invitees,” the lawyer says.
The LDF, led by the CPI(M), retained power with a comfortable majority in the recently held Assembly election in Kerala bagging 99 of the 140 seats.
The new Kerala government will reportedly have a 21-member cabinet in the state. A decision on portfolio allocation has been left to CM Vijayan.
The decision to keep limit the guests to 500 announced on May 17 came after Vijayan faced criticism over his last week’s announcement that the oath-taking event will be held at the Central Stadium with over 750 people attending amid a raging pandemic. The new decision also received a backlash on social media.
On May 15, Kerala unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had recommended that the swearing-in be done virtually in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases.
“Therefore, it is earnestly requested that Your Lordships may kindly apply the judicial mind in the above matter, with utmost care and concern as sentinels of the qui vive; and take up the matter suo moto, in the interest of justice and public interest by issuing necessary orders to save the lives of citizens living in the state of Kerala who are already under distress,” the letter reads.
Kerala is among the worst-affected states with pandemic in the country. On May 17, the state recorded 21,402 new COVID-19 cases taking the caseload to 21,39,314. With 87 more people succumbing to the disease, the toll reached 6,515. As many as 3,62,315 patients are undergoing treatment for the virus across the state.