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Supreme Court takes back decision to keep markets open on weekends

Supreme Court takes back decision to keep markets open on weekends

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday took back its decision to reopen markets on the weekend as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across the country.

The decision was announced by the apex court during a hearing of the suo motu case regarding measures taken against the virus outbreak today.

“Coronavirus does not differentiate between provinces. The federal government needs to take a lead on this and needs to come up with laws regarding this,” said the top court.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed questioned if all the departments in the country were functioning, why could the Parliament not. “There need to be laws on a national level to deal with the coronavirus pandemic,” he remarked, adding that laws needed to be implemented on a national level.

The top judge further said that nothing would come out of press conferences but instead laws were needed.

“China immediately came up with laws to stem the spread of the virus,” he noted.

The top judge added that saving lives was the basic need of the hour.

In its hearing regarding the reopening of markets last month before Eid-ul-Fitr, the top court had announced shopping malls and markets should remain open seven days a week, which were earlier shut down during the lockdown imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

During the hearing, CJP Ahmed had remarked that if the shops are shut down then shopkeepers would ‘die of hunger rather than the coronavirus’.

CJP Ahmed said that in Karachi, except for five big malls every market had resumed operations.

Upon which, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani had informed the court said that a few markets were sealed for not following the Standard Operating Procedures laid out by the government.

“The sealed markets should be opened and instead of intimidating them (shop owners) make them understand (the situation and SOPs),” remarked the top judge.

The top judge also summoned details of all big shopping malls across Karachi from the city’s commissioner.

The Attorney General of Pakistan also presented arguments via video link from Karachi registry during the hearing, while Additional Attorney General had appeared before the court.

The CJP expressed indignation over the violation of decisions undertaken during the National Command and Operations Centre’s sessions.

“What were the decisions taken by the NCOC?” said the top judge, to which Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood responded that the NCOC decided to reopen the construction sector.

“What was the other decision,” continued asking the CJP.

“The NCOC’s other decision was to open small shops and community markets,” said the Deputy Attorney General, adding that the decision regarding the reopening of big malls was not taken.

The CJP had then inquired about the reason behind closing down markets on weekends, saying that the court will issue a written order that the small markets should remain open on Saturday and Sunday.

The CJP had noted that the SOPs would be ‘better implemented’ at the big shopping malls.

The apex court had then ordered that on the weekends, all the small markets would remain open to the public.