The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday criticised the state Congress unit for organising a 10-day rally amid the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, reported Live Law. The court asked the Karnataka unit of Congress to make a submission by Friday on whether it had taken due permission to hold its “Walk for Water” rally.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Suraj Govindaraj also asked the Congress to tell the court if Covid-19 protocols had been followed during the rally and what steps had been taken in cases of their violation.

The judges also asked the state government to submit how the permission to hold the rally had been granted. The court will hear the case again on Friday.

The Karnataka government has prohibited rallies and protest marches till January 19 as part of restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19. The state’s counsel told the court that the divisional commissioner of Ramanagar district had issued a notice on January 5 denying permission for the rally.

The counsel also submitted that first information reports have been lodged against Congress leaders for holding the rally, reported The News Minute.

The court made the observations while hearing a petition by a man named AV Nagendra Prasad. The petitioner has sought court’s direction to the state government to not allow any political rallies, and to stop the Congress from continuing the rally amid the third wave of the pandemic.

The Congress started its 10-day rally on January 9, demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project across Cauvery river. On Sunday, some religious leaders and film personalities, including actor Duniya Vijay and music composer Sadhu Kokila, also took part in the march organised by Congress.

The project entails building a reservoir in a deep gorge at the confluence of the river Cauvery with its tributary Arkavathi in the Ramanagara district. The project aims to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and nearby areas and also to generate 400 megawatts of power. It is estimated to cost about Rs 9,000 crore.

Tamil Nadu has opposed the project, claiming that it will impede the free flow of water from the Cauvery into the state.

FIRs against Congress leaders

State Congress chief DK Shivakumar, who is leading the rally, and 63 party workers were booked in Ramanagara on Wednesday for allegedly violating Covid-19 norms, reported ANI. This is the third case against Shivakumar in the matter.

On Tuesday, 41 people including Shivakumar, had been named in a first information report filed at Sathanur police station in Ramanagara district. A day before that, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said that an FIR has been registered against Congress leaders and organisers of the rally.

Shivakumar had said that he has received a notice from the Bharatiya Janata Party regarding the alleged violations of Covid protocols. He had claimed that it was a “political ploy”.

Shivakumar allegedly refused to take coronavirus test, when a doctor requested for his sample as a part of random resting.

“Rey mister, I am fit and fine,” he allegedly had said. “You can’t compel me. I know the law of this land. Tell your ministers I am fine. I won’t give my sample for testing. And there’s no requirement for that.”