SC retracts order to keep markets open on weekends

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By Shakeel Ahmed

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