After being pulled up earlier by the Karnataka High Court, the Belgavi police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the organisers of a political rally over violation of COVID protocols of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. The rally was led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at Belagavi on January 17.
Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi informed the court today that on June 14, an FIR has been registered and further investigations are on
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj expressed surprise that only six persons were named in the FIR.
“On what basis the Commissioner has made a statement that only six persons were there at the rally who were not wearing masks?. In the rally of thousands, he is bold to say only six persons were not wearing masks. Can anyone believe this?”, the Chief Justice asked.
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Navadgi assured that court the FIR was only a starting point and steps like checking of video footage etc would be undertaken to ascertain the exact number of violators during the further investigations.
The court in its order noted that the Advocate General assures the court that as FIR is now registered on June 14, proper investigation will be carried out and everyone who has violated the law will be booked.
Further it said “We direct the officer in-charge of APMC yard police station at Belgavi city to file in a sealed envelope investigation report carried out. The report is to be filed by July 19”.
Earlier, on March 12, the High Court had prima facie held that there was violation of the rules regarding wearing of masks and social distancing in the rally. The Court had then directed the Police Commissioner to explain the action taken against violators.
After that, the commissioner had filed an affidavit stating that only fines were collected from certain persons for violation and no FIR was registered
Dissatisfied with this response, the Court had observed, “Reading the affidavit as a whole, we find that the Commissioner approached the matter very casually. Large gathering took place in Belagavi where rules regarding wearing of masks and social distancing were thrown to the wind. But the commissioner seems to be satisfied with the recovery of the fine amount!”
Following this, the court on May 25 directed the Commissioner to explain why even a single First Information Report, was not registered for violation of provisions of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act of 2020 and regulations framed thereunder.