Night curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. imposed in Telangana until May 1 after ultimatum by High Court bench

Published : April 21, 2021 12:08 IST

Streets around the Chrminar in Hyderabad deserted after the government announced a night curfew. Photo: NAGARA GOPAL

The Telangana government was forced to announce the imposition of a night curfew across the State on April 20 caught precariously as it was for over a fortnight between the Telangana High Court’s stinging remarks over its mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis and not wanting to stymie the State’s economy.

The night curfew, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., will be in force until May 1. The second wave of the pandemic has raged unchecked across the State, the last few days recording new highs in the number of active cases. As of April 20, the number of active cases in Telangana stood at 42,853. However, the government had been reluctant to impose any kind of lockdown and was repeatedly quoting the Rs.28,000 revenue loss to the exchequer because of the lockdown imposed on the State a year ago.

But several critical observations by the Telangana High Court bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy seem to have prodded the government to act. On April 19, the bench opined that the Telangana government must consider intensifying restrictions and/or impose a night curfew in the State in view of the rising case numbers. Serving the government with a de facto ultimatum, the bench said: “The State government must decide if it plans to impose a lockdown or night curfew, within the next 48 hours.” The bench added that if the government did not take any concrete steps within the next two days, the court would be forced to step in and play the role of an executive.

Despite the court’s directions, many Ministers in the Cabinet were, according to sources, not in favour of a lockdown or curfew. Speaking to Frontline, a senior Minister who did not want to be identified said that while saving lives was important, what was equally important if not more so was saving livelihoods. Said the Minister: If COVID-19 kills 100, loss of livelihoods kills many times that number.”

As per the government order, the night curfew will see all offices, firms, shops, establishments, restaurants, malls, closing by 8 p.m. The only exceptions are hospitals, diagnostic labs, pharmacies, and those dealing with supply of essential services such as print and electronic media, telecommunications, Internet services, broadcasting and cable services, and IT and IT-enabled services.

The order mandates that movement of all persons shall be prohibited from 9 p.m. onwards except people engaged in essential services, State and Central government officers on emergency duty, medical personnel, pregnant women, patients, and persons coming from/going to airports, railway stations, bus stands on the production of a valid ticket.

There is to be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement/transportation of essential and non-essential goods, nor will any separate permission/pass be required for such movement.