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Kerala High Court Dismisses Plea Seeking Reopening Of Karnataka Borders For Free Commute Between States, Cites Jurisdictional Irregularity

Hannah M Varghese
28 Sep 2021 5:30 AM GMT
Kerala High Court Dismisses Plea Seeking Reopening Of Karnataka Borders For Free Commute Between States, Cites Jurisdictional Irregularity
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking Karnataka to reopen its borders adjacent to the State of Kerala and to allow entry of passengers from Kerala possessing Covid-19 vaccination certificate for at least one dose to Karnataka.A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly cited territorial jurisdictional irregularities in the matter while...

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking Karnataka to reopen its borders adjacent to the State of Kerala and to allow entry of passengers from Kerala possessing Covid-19 vaccination certificate for at least one dose to Karnataka.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly cited territorial jurisdictional irregularities in the matter while dismissing the petition. 

The Court also noted that the Karnataka High Court had issued conflicting directions on a similar matter. 

The issue of territorial jurisdiction assumes significance in the light of the scope of Article 226, as contended by the respondents in the matter.

The Supreme Court in Nawal Kishore Sharma v. Union of India and Ors. interpreted Article 226 to mean that the power of a High Court to issue writs to authorities beyond its territorial jurisdiction is circumscribed by the requirement that the cause of action, must at least partly, arise within its territorial jurisdiction.

However, in the case at hand, the petitioners challenged the actions of the State of Karnataka and the Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada District before the Kerala High Court.

This becomes problematic since neither the State nor the Deputy Commissioner fall within the territorial limits of the Kerala High Court.

The decision came in a plea filed by the Secretary of a trust operating in Kerala, namely Rastrakavi Manjeshwara Govid Pai Smaraka Samithi, praying for a direction to the respondents to take immediate steps to allow the passengers possessing covid vaccination certificate for at least one dose as imposed by the Karnataka government on other States.

The petitioner had challenged the action of the Karnataka government requiring all passengers to carry an RT PCR negative certificate in addition to the Covid vaccination certificate to be permitted to the State from Kerala.

He alleged that such imposition of arbitrary and illegal conditions violated the fundamental rights of the people residing at the border towns of Kasargod.

In the plea, it was highlighted that such a restriction particularly affected the people of Kasargod for the sole reason that most of its residents were heavily dependent on the Mangalore city for employment. 

The petitioner, a Kasargod resident himself, pointed out that the condition imposed by the Karnataka government was detrimental for the daily travellers, including labourers, employees and students of his town who work and study at the Mangalore city respectively.  

Alleging that the condition of an RTPCR test report for daily commute deprived the residents of the town of their right to travel on a daily basis, the petition sought a directive from the Court to reopen all borders of the State of Karnataka connecting the State of Kerala, and for free movement of people and vehicles from Kerala to Karnataka.  

Advocate Anoop P.V had appeared for the petitioner in the matter. 

However, in its counter-affidavit, the Karnataka government assailed the maintainability of the petitions citing Article 226 of the Constitution regarding the jurisdiction of High Courts.

In a connected matter, AKM Ashraf, an MLA from Kerala State Assembly, had approached the Court seeking a direction to the Centre to relax the requirement of negative RT-PCR certificates not older than 72 hours for daily commuters to Karnataka. He also sought a directive to open the borders with Kerala.

The plea alleged that the authorities insisted on such certificates from people visiting Karnataka on a daily basis for education, business, job and medical treatment which he contended was practically impossible. Hence, the policy decision was argued to be violative of the principles of natural justice and Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Advocate Haris Beeran appearing for the petitioner in the matter had produced a series of circulars issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs according to which there should not be restrictions on the inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods including those for cross land border trade.

The Court had then issued an interim order dated 17th August directing the Karnataka government to permit inter-state entry in emergency situations without an RTPCR test report. 

Case Title: Jayananda K.R V. Union of India & Ors

Click Here To Read/ Download Judgment



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