New Delhi: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed for two weeks the Allahabad High Court order directing weeklong lockdown in 5 major COVID-19 affected cities - Allahabad, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Gorakhpur - of Uttar Pradesh.
The top court passed the order in response to the Uttar Pradesh government's plea challenging the Allahabad High Court`s order to impose lockdown in its five worst-COVID-19 affected cities.
The state government maintained that ''such kinds of decisions are not in the domain of the High Court.'' The order was passed by the bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde.
Appearing on behalf of the UP government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, "the state is already taking steps to contain the spread of COVID-19 but a complete lockdown would create immense administrative difficulties.
"Complete COVID-19 lockdown was imposed for a week in many cities in Uttar Pradesh. Considering the urgency, in the matter, please consider it for hearing today," Solicitor General said.
Taking note of the state government's submissions that it has taken adequate steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the top court also appointed senior advocate P S Narasimha as amicus curiae to assist it in future hearings in the UP lockdown case
Earlier last week, the Allahabad High Court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to consider imposing a complete lockdown in the most affected districts along with ramping up tracking, testing and treatment facilities.
The Uttar Pradesh government has already announced restrictions on gatherings of five or more people in religious places for effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic during Navratri and Ramzan.
Uttar Pradesh has recorded 18,021 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the state health department informed on Tuesday.
On Monday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath`s office had said, "There is no need to impose a complete lockdown. Weekend lockdowns will continue to curb the spread of COVID-19."
As per the Union Health Ministry, there are currently 2,08,523 active cases in Uttar Pradesh. So far, 6,61,311 recoveries and 9,997 deaths have been reported in the state.
India is currently witnessing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic reported over 2.73 lakh fresh infections in the last 24 hours - the highest since the pandemic broke out last year.
According to the Health Ministry, there are currently 19,29,329 active cases in the country. India registered 2,59,170 new COVID-19 cases and 1,761 deaths in the last 24 hours, the data by the Union Health Ministry showed on Tuesday (April 20, 2021) morning.
As per the official figures, there were also 1,54,761 coronavirus recoveries between Monday and Tuesday morning. India now has a total of 1,53,21,089 COVID-19 infections, of which, 20,31,977 are active cases. The country has so far witnessed 1,80,530 coronavirus-related fatalities.