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Kerala High Court Permits Interstate Travel From Kerala To Karnataka For Emergency Situations

Hannah M Varghese
17 Aug 2021 9:14 AM GMT
Kerala High Court Permits Interstate Travel From Kerala To Karnataka For Emergency Situations
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday permitted interstate travel from Kerala to Karnataka for emergency situations like death in the family or medical treatment, irrespective of the mode of transportation preferred by the passengers, whether private vehicles or ambulances. A Division Bench of Justice Shaji P Chaly and Justice Badharudeen while issuing the interim order posted the matter...

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday permitted interstate travel from Kerala to Karnataka for emergency situations like death in the family or medical treatment, irrespective of the mode of transportation preferred by the passengers, whether private vehicles or ambulances. 

A Division Bench of Justice Shaji P Chaly and Justice Badharudeen while issuing the interim order posted the matter on 25th August for further consideration. 

The bench passed the order taking note of the fact that a circular issued by the Karnataka Government exempts certain categories of people from the requirement of negative RTPCR requirements such as students and public visiting Karnataka daily for education, business and other reasons, on certain conditions. That apart, certain categories are exempted from negative RT-PCR certificate and they includes constitutional functionaries and health care professionals, children below two years and emergent situations like death in the family, medical treatment, etc, after undergoing the protocol prescribed.

The petitioner's counsel voiced the apprehension that the police and other authorities of State of Karnataka are preventing patients transported to the State of Karnataka in a private vehicle.

Taking note of this, the bench ordered :

"In that view of the matter, there will be a direction to the State of Karnataka and the officials to ensure that the directions contained in the revised circular dated 31.07.2021 extracted above is strictly implemented and further to ensure that the people in dire emergent situations like death in the family, medical treatment etc, are permitted to enter the State of Karnataka on production of necessary documents to establish the respective case, irrespective of the nature of the vehicles used for the purpose".

This development came in a case where AKM Ashraf, an MLA from Kerala State Assembly, had approached the Court recently 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 petition stated that as per the order issued by the Karnataka government, all passengers from Kerala, including people who have been vaccinated are required to produce a negative RT-PCR certificate taken within 72 hours.

In protest of the same, the MLA had made headlines on Monday by staging a hunger strike against the inter-state travel restrictions to Karnataka. 

Advocate Haris Beeran appearing for the petitioner 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 petitioner prayed that two categories of persons may be particularly allowed to enter the State, namely patients depending on Mysore City hospitals for treatment and students pursuing their education from the city upon production of ID cards. . 

The Assistant Solicitor General on behalf of Union of India submitted that the stand taken by the Karnataka government may be in lieu of the fact that the TPR rate in Kerala has been excessively high over the months, which poses a risk of higher transmission of the virus in the former state if inter-state travel is encouraged. 

Advocate General of Karnataka sought time to file a counter, However, he placed on record a circular issued by the Karnataka Government dated 31 July 2021 where it was provided that in dire emergency situations, a swab test can be collected from the passenger, after which they may be permitted to enter the State. 

He added that the city has the highest number of Covid patients in the States, and that the present TPR was above 6 which is why stringent restrictions were in place. The AG also argued upon the issue of territorial jurisdiction in the matter.  It was further argued that the circular and the pursuant restrictions were implemented based on the recommendations of a technical advisory committee. 

Background:

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.

The grievance of the petition is that the people of his constituency, namely Manjeshwar were dependent on certain districts in Karnataka for their basic needs. During the first lockdown in 2020, a similar blockade was made by Karnataka which had allegedly claimed the lives of 22 people who were denied entry for urgent medical treatment. Due to the current blockade, the majority of activities of the people of Kasaragod district have come to a standstill.

The petitioner also sought a directive to the central government to ensure free movement of daily commuters who have taken at least the first dose of vaccine through the border without insisting on negative RT-PCR done 72 hours prior to the date of travel to Karnataka.

Case Title: A.K.M Ashraf v. Union of India

Click here to read/download the order




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