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Gangasagar Fair Will Happen: Calcutta High Court

Calcutta HC

Ashok Chatterjee

Kolkata (The Hawk): Putting to rest all speculations, the Calcutta High Court granted conditional permission for Gangasagar Mela on Tuesday. This verdict is after it had earlier too given its nod for holding the annual fair on Friday.

The court also formed a new two-member committee, instead of a three-member to monitor the fair.

The new committee will be chaired by retired Justice Samapti Chatterjee and a member of the State Legal Services Authority. This committee will now take the final decision about the fair.

Under the new conditions put forth by the court, double vaccine certificates have been made compulsory. In case one does not have it,  a negative RT-PCR test report, 72 hours before going to the fair, has to be carried. The entire Sagar Island will have to be declared a notified zone. The state chief secretary will implement all these issues. However, a two-member committee will monitor whether the conditions are being met.

Significantly, leader of opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari was dropped from the committee. The earlier committee had the state chief secretary and the chairman of the state human rights commission, apart from Suvendu.

It is worth mentioning that after the last Friday verdict of the Calcutta HC, five more PILs were filed at the HC seeking closure of Gangasagar fair. All the cases were being heard together. The state had demanded the formation of a ‘committee free of political figures’. Also the complainants wanted presence of a virologist or public health expert in the monitoring committee.

The new committee, however, still did not find any representation of a health official. Dr Hiralal Konar of Joint Forum of Doctors had said on Monday that the monitoring committee should include a microbiologist or a public health expert, who will have a better idea of the ground situation.

Lawyers representing the PILs demanded that the coronavirus infections have increased rapidly since January 3. Even many of those who come to attend the fair are infected. Many are asymptomatic. If the fair is held at this stage, it can be a super-spreader event.

Physician Abhinandan Mandal was also one of the people who had filed the PILs.

On the other hand, the. In other words, the state's lawyer questioned Shuvendu's removal from the committee without naming him. The state had demanded that political figures be removed from the committee in the interest of an impartial report. It is believed that the verdict of the High Court on Tuesday went in that direction.

The committee was also asked to appoint a doctor or health specialist. Public interest litigation lawyer Sreejib Chakraborty said, “The committee formed by the high court will take a final decision on whether the fair will be closed or not.” It is not their job to control COVID there. They can only recommend to the state to close the fair independently.”