The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of the chargesheet filed against Congress leaders including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and party’s state president D K Shivakumar, accused of violating COVID-19 protocol.
The chargesheet was filed in the case pertaining to the padayatra led by the two leaders demanding construction of the Mekedatu dam across the river Cauvery.
The 10-day padayatra that had begun on January nine, from Mekedatu, the confluence of rivers Cauvery and Arkavathi, was supposed to end here, but it was suspended on January 13, due to the High Court cracking the whip as the Congress ignored the restrictions imposed by the State government in view of surge in COVID cases and possible third wave.
The march was relaunched in February from the place it was suspended to reach the destination – Bengaluru.
Senior advocate A S Ponnanna, who appeared for the Congress leaders, submitted that the provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act could not have been invoked without necessary notifications invoking the provisions of the Act.
This apart, the chargesheet/prosecution is relying on the guidelines issued under the National Disaster Management Act and prosecuting under the Epidemic Disease Act, which is illegal.
It was also argued that, in fact, there’s enough material to show that the agencies of the State had permitted the padayatra.
The charge-sheet was stayed by Justice Sunil Dutt Yadav’s single-judge-bench.