The Telangana High Court on Thursday told the State government that it required to ramp up enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines, observing that the police department was lax in cracking the whip against people not adhering to rules.
Referring to statistics of cases booked in a status report filed by DGP M. Mahender Reddy in a batch of PIL petitions on COVID-19, the HC said the “numbers were not impressive” and the “police department needs to ramp up the enforcement”. Citing the 1,16,467 cases booked for not wearing masks from March 24, 2020 to April 1, 2021, a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy said that many more number of cases could be in Hyderabad city alone.
Citing the figures of 2,456 cases booked for not maintaining social distance, the bench felt the number was abysmally low compared to the long queues witnessed before wine shops, pubs and bars. “Wine shops and bars may be sources of revenue for the government, but they are sources of infection as well,” the bench remarked. Stringent actions like suspension of licences should be initiated instead of merely booking cases in case of violation of COVID-19 norms, the bench observed.
Chief Justice Hima Kohli said that law-enforcing agencies can find numerous violations of COVID guidelines if they visit localities in Old City. Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy specifically told Advocate General B.S. Prasad to convey to police department about the crowds at bars and pubs on road Nos. 36 and 45 of Jubilee Hills. “Traffic police check persons driving vehicles after consuming liquor outside the bars. But police should put in place strict mechanism to bring down footfall at bars and pubs,” he observed. The judge said youngsters were in a holiday mood after long periods of lockdown and flocking to pubs and bars unmindful of the possible escalation of spread. Police required to find a mechanism to check this, he said.