The High Court of Kerala on Monday sought the response of Advocate General of Karnataka on the issue of Karnataka Government blocking the road borders to Kerala in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association seeking directions for opening the inter-state roads.
In a video conferencing hearing, the bench comprising Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly orally conveyed the Court's apprehensions about the impact of the road blockade on the rights of people, due to disruption of supplies of essential good and services.
The bench said that it was hoping for an amicable settlement of the issue, and urged the Central Government to make effective interventions.
The Court has requested the Karnataka AG to join the hearing via video conferencing tomorrow at 11 AM.
The authorities in Karnataka have erected mud embankments on the arterial inter-state roads. Two patients have died after Karnataka police refused entry to ambulances ferrying them from places in border district of Kasargod in Kerala to Mangaluru, a preferred destination for treatment for border residents owing to proximity.
Referring to these unfortunate incidents, the bench observed that the lockdown, which was imposed to save human lives from the pandemic, should not lead to loss of lives in other forms.
The Central Government Counsel submitted that the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued necessary guidelines to ensure unhindered movement of inter-state goods and services.
The Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier written to the Prime Minster Narendra Modi seeking Central intervention in the matter, after talks between the Chief Secretaries of both states failed.
The Yeddyurappa government stood firm on its decision citing the risk of COVID-19 infections from Kasargod district, which has the highest number of reported cases in Kerala.
In its petition, the KHCAA said that the blockade was affecting the fundamental rights of people in Kerala.
"The closure of State Borders also result in hindrance of transport of essential commodities to the State of Kerala. This also results in serious violation of fundamental rights of the citizens of India living all over Kerala. The right of a citizen to have medical treatment at the nearest hospital with facilities to cater to his need is to be read as a fundamental right under Art.21 of the Constitution. It is a necessary facet of the right to health. It is submitted that merely because the nearest hospital is beyond the State Border should not hinder the availability of efficient medical treatment for people. It is apprehended that such actions of closing the borders may be followed by the other states also and this will cause further violation of the rights of the people in the State of Kerala. It is necessary to give directions not to do such acts", the Association stated.
In a related development, Rajmohan Unnithan, the MP from Kasargod constituency, which shares land border with Karnataka, filed a petition on Monday in the Supreme Court against the road blockade.
Click here to download the petition filed by KHCAA
Read the petition filed by KHCAA
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