By LE Desk

New Delhi, April 20: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Allahabad High Court order imposing Covid-19 curbs in five cities in Uttar Pradesh — Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar, and Gorakhpur — till April 26. While hearing the matter on Tuesday, the Supreme Court also asked the Yogi Adityanath-led state government to submit before the Allahabad High Court within one week its various steps and measures taken to control the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, the top court has appointed senior advocate PS Narasimha as amicus curiae in the matter. The next hearing will take place after two weeks, the Hindustan Times reported.

The UP government, earlier this day, moved the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court’s Monday order. Represented by solicitor general Tushar Mehta, the Uttar Pradesh government mentioned the matter before the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde, to which the top court agreed to hear the case. Mehta mentioned that imposing a blanket lockdown by judicial order in the five cities “may not be the right approach”.

A day ago, Allahabad High Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to close all establishments, private or government-run, in five of its most populous cities — Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar and Gorakhpur. The court also slammed the state government for “not planning” for a second wave of the pandemic and criticised the state election commission for holding the panchayat elections at this time and “exposing” poll officials to the threat of the virus. The Uttar Pradesh government resisted the order and said that there will be no “complete lockdown” in the cities for now.

Responding to the Allahabad High Court order, UP additional chief secretary (information), Navneet Sehgal on Monday said that strict curbs are necessary to control the spread of the virus but protecting livelihoods is equally important to saving lives. He added that a complete lockdown in these cities is not necessary for now since people are “automatically closing many places”.

The total number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in Uttar Pradesh currently stands at 879,831, as per the official tally provided by the state government at 10:45pm on Monday. Of these, 208,523 are active cases while the state wide death toll has almost touched 10,000.

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