Kedarnath visit: HC directs UP MLA, Uttarakhand govt to submit replies within 10...

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Dehradun: Uttarakhand high court (HC) on Thursday directed the state government, Uttar Pradesh (UP) member of legislative assembly (MLA) Aman Mani Tripathi and his 11 supporters to submit their replies before the court within 10 days, questioning how the lawmaker and his aides were given permission to visit Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines amid the coronavirus disease-(Covid-19)-induced lockdown restrictions, said Gopal K Verma, the counsel of the petitioner, Umesh Kumar.

The court has asked the state government to explain in what circumstances and capacity the additional chief secretary (ACS) had given permission to the MLA and his 11 supporters, said Verma.

Dehradun based-Kumar’s PIL had sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter, the counsel added.

On May 29, the HC had issued notices to lawmaker Tripathi, his 11 supporters, chief secretary (CS), director-general of police (DGP), ACS, home secretary, and district magistrates (DMs) of Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Pauri Garhwal and Dehradun to submit their replies within three weeks.

On Thursday, the counsel said the DGP and DM Dehradun had submitted their replies, while the permission to the MLA was issued by the additional district magistrate (ADM), Dehradun.

“The rest of the respondents sought another 10 days, which the court agreed to,” he said.

Verma said the ACS had instructed state officials to give MLA Tripathi the permission to visit Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines to perform the rituals for UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s father, Anand Singh Bisht, who had died in New Delhi on April 21 amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

MLA Tripathi and his 11 supporters were booked by Uttarakhand Police at night on May 3 on charges of flouting lockdown norms.

They were booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and Section 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other relevant sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, and Disaster Management Act, 2005, said Ashok Kumar, director-general of police (DGP) (law & order), Uttarakhand.

The MLA and his supporters returned to UP after the police prevented them from proceeding towards the shrines that were also closed for the prevailing lockdown restrictions.

Earlier, the DGP (law & order) had said though they had a pass for nine people, 12 were found to be travelling by three cars.

“However, the lockdown norms stipulate that only two passengers and a driver are allowed to travel by a car,” he had added.

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