The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a petition that sought directions to the chief minister of Delhi to stop publication of data on coronavirus cases based on religion, Bar and Bench reported. The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah said that the grievances expressed in the plea had already been taken care of.
The counsel for the petitioner said the plea had been moved to prevent the “communalisation” of reporting of coronavirus cases by the chief minister of Delhi in his official capacity through different modes, including the official Twitter handle of the Chief Minister’s Office. In contrast with other cases the Supreme Court has heard, which fall within the domain of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, this plea pertains to the Information Technology Act, 2000, the petitioner argued.
The matter dates back to March, when a large congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat group was held in the Nizamuddin Markaz in New Delhi. The congregation was later blamed for many coronavirus infections. The petitioner in this case said news reports had communalised the disease and made the Muslim community appear in a negative light. This was furthered by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal through his Twitter handle, he claimed.
“Such reporting has triggered communal antagonism and has also perpetrated hatred, resulting in fissiparous tendencies gaining foothold, undermining and affecting communal harmony by the State /CM itself/himself,” the petition argued.
The petitioner claimed that the “right to dignity” of people was affected due to such reporting. The petitioner added that diseases do not have a religion.
But the court said it was disinclined to hear the matter as it had already passed several orders on the matter, rendering the instant plea redundant. The court also refused to tag the plea with other cases pending before the court on the communalisation of the Markaz event.
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin, Delhi, in March was blamed for thousands of coronavirus infections around the country in the initial weeks of the nationwide lockdown which began on March 25. The congregation was attended by many foreigners. The Tablighi Jamaat is a Sunni Muslim sect with followers in over 80 countries.
India’s coronavirus count rose to 59,03,932 on Saturday, as the country reported 85,362 new cases in the last 24 hours. India’s toll rose by 1,089 to 93,379. As many as 48.49 lakh people have recovered from the infection so far. The Indian Council of Medical Research said 13,41,535 samples were tested on Friday.