8 July 2021 3:43 AM GMT
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has observed that in the extraordinary situation of a pandemic or disaster involving loss of life and human suffering, the Central Government as well as the State Government are empowered to put any restriction in the larger public under the Disaster Management Act, including restriction of movement of public by inter-state bus transportation. A single judge...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has observed that in the extraordinary situation of a pandemic or disaster involving loss of life and human suffering, the Central Government as well as the State Government are empowered to put any restriction in the larger public under the Disaster Management Act, including restriction of movement of public by inter-state bus transportation.
A single judge bench comprising of Justice Vivek Rusia was dealing with a petition filed by MP Bus Operator Association challenging various Government orders restricting inter State bus transportation between State of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra owing to the rising number of covid 19 cases.
"In normal situation the action of the State Government can be examined in respect of putting restriction on any trade and business but in the case of disaster or pandemic where the loss of life or human suffering or damages are in large scale then the Central Government or the State Government is empowered to put any restriction in the larger public interest in exercise of power under section 24 of the Act of 2005. Section 72 gives overriding effect to the provisions of the Act of 2005 over the other Act." The Court observed.
"The transportation by stage carriages is under the control of the State Government, therefore, the State Govt. is competent to put restriction or conditions in which there is no discrimination by the State Government ." the Court said further.
It was the case of the petitioner association that despite having valid permit to ply inter state buses, the government had restricted them in wake of the second covid wave. It was also stated that while the bus movement between the two States was restricted, there was no restriction on movement of passengers by air or train travel therefore causing discrimination by banning their facilities.
Submitting that its their fundamental right to practice any profession or carry out business which is being restricted by the Government, the petition argued that they will not permit any passenger to travel in their buses without a negative RTPCR report if the inter state transportation is allowed to them.
On the other hand, it was submitted on behalf of the State that the restriction imposed is temporary in nature and that the ban will be lifted once the situation becomes back to normal.
Furthermore, it was submitted that since there is a prediction of there being a third covid wave of "covid delta variant" in the State of Maharashtra, the government might extend the period of band which was to expire on June 30.
Hearing the aforesaid submissions, the Court observed thus:
"It is not in dispute that the second wave of covid -19 started from the State of Maharashtra and being a neighboring State there is a frequent movement of public between M.P and Maharashtra by all means of transport. Accordingly to the petitioner there is no restriction on transportation by railways and airways. The railways and airways are under the domain of the Central Government and on which the State Government cannot put any restriction. The transportation by stage carriages is under the control of the State Government, therefore, the State Govt. is competent to put restriction or conditions in which there is no discrimination by the State Government."
Further noting that while in transportation through airways and railways, passengers are checked in entry and exit points, the Court observed that the same is not possible in travelling through buses.
"The buses can be stopped anywhere and collect the passengers which is not possible in the railways and airways, therefore, both are different classes of transportation. The State Government has put restriction only for the limited period subject to the reduction of cases of covid. There is no permanent restriction for transportation through buses from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra and vice versa." The Court said.
"The Government is reviewing the situation after the interval of 10-15 days and extending the restriction for limited period. Except Maharashtra the petitioners are permitted to ply the buses in other part of the country, therefore, there is no 100% restriction on the right of trade and business. In the larger public interest, the individual interest is bound to suffer." The Court said further.
On the applicability of Disaster Management Act, the Court was of the view that sec. 25 of the Act gives power to the Central and State Government to take steps as required and warranted in a pandemic situation and that the restriction imposed by the State Government has to be looked in the exercise of that power.
With the said observations, the Court disposed of the petition while observing that the High Court should not interfere in the policy decision taken by the State Government.
"It is expected from the State Government that further extension or restriction of movement of public by inter-State transportation by buses shall not be in mechanical manner but after assessing the facts and figures of covid -19 cases in the State of Maharashtra." The Court said.
Title: M.P Bus Operator Association vs. State of M.P & others
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