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NHRC directs Odisha DM to act against official flouting Covid norms at wedding function

ANI | Updated: Jun 06, 2021 14:27 IST

New Delhi [India], June 6 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Sunday directed the district magistrate and collector of Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district to act on a petition alleging a state bureaucrat violated Covid-guidelines by participating in a dance procession during her brother's wedding.
The NHRC had passed the order recently acting on a petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer and human rights activist, Radhakanta Tripathy.
The NHRC in its order stated, "This complaint be transmitted to the concerned authority for such action as deemed appropriate. The authority concerned is directed to take appropriate action within eight weeks associating the complainant/victim and to inform him/her of the action taken in the matter."
On May 21 Bulbul Behera, an Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) officer, serving as Tehsildar of Sukinda, along with her brother, family members and other participants in a wedding procession of her brother in nearby Jagannathpur village under Tirtol block of Jagatsinghpur district, violated Covid guidelines blatantly as the district administration of Jagatsinghpur and Police remained inactive and negligent causing thereby threat to public life and created health hazard. Since a person of her stature did this, others became fearless and followed the suit, said Tripathy in his petition.
A video shot on May 21 evening by a whistleblower during the wedding function of the woman bureaucrat's brother, showed guests dancing mostly without wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, flouted COVID guidelines by taking a procession at night with more than permissible limits.
Panchayati Raj institutions like Sarpanchs have been given responsibilities to keep the spread in the pandemic under check in rural areas. But in the present case the State Official, who was in charge of adherence of the guidelines herself thrown the laws to wind and violated Covid guidelines, the plea pointed out.

Tracing, tracking and vaccinating the participants of the "Marriage Procession and feast are required in the present case. The woman officer was also assigned the responsibility to impose the Covid-19 guidelines and ensure that the general public abides by the rules. The Odisha Government fails to discipline its own officials, Tripathy alleged.
There are several instances where Police or the Government officials slaps , beats people for slightly breaking the Covid guidelines. However, in the present case they themselves violate Covid guidelines without responsibility and accountability, Every time whistleblowers should not be expected to capture the scene in camera, Tripathy pointed out.
The petitioner sought for replies from the State Authorities on the following questions. Legal action against all the violators including the Bureaucrat, Groom and brides families who are directly responsible for the violation of Covid guidelines. The Authority who has given permission and why the Police , area Magistrate-in-charge and local Sarpanch failed to keep vigil over the incident has also been brought to the notice of the NHRC.
The favoritism factor for the officer, the role of the whistle blowers and departmental action are to be probed by the District Collector after the NHRC direction. Besides these testing and taking adequate measures for Covid should be done for all the participants of the procession, the petition of Tripathy, added.
"Why it is always the whistleblowers, tweeter, facebook, social media users required to register a case against powerful persons, not the rule of law and the area Magistrate and police?" Tripathy questioned.
Tripathy requested the NHRC to ensure all participants of the procession and function be tested for Covid.
The plea also urged the NHRC to arrest the persons flouting the COVID guidelines and ensure a fair trial of the case and to take legal action against the local Magistrate (In-charge of Covid protocol), police and the Sarpanch who allowed the violation of Covid-19 guidelines at night. (ANI)