Kerala High Court
Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Shaji P. Chaly andM.R. Anitha, JJ., addressed a PIL with regard to issue of facilitating journey of persons stranded at Walayar Check-Post.

It has ben stated that, certain persons were stranded at Walayar Check-Post on 9th May, 2020 which is an entry point provided by the Kerala Government to permit interstate entry to people outside the State of Kerala.

Further the case put forth by the petitioners was that, even though the persons traveling had secured passes from the State of Karnataka and the State of Tamil Nadu, they could not secure passes from the State Government online since the platform offered by the State Government was not properly functional. Group of people included pregnant women, children, students, senior citizens and people with medical illnesses.

It is also submitted that even though the group of people tried their best to cross the border of the State of Kerala, the State officials did not permit them and they were even denied the basic amenities as is contemplated in the Government Order dated 2.5.2020 issued on the basis of the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

State Government submitted that, it is strictly adhering to the directives, orders and advisories issued by the Government of India and there is no manner of laches on the part of the Government in complying with the regulations and the guidelines issued for the purpose.

After assimilating the pros and cons and the facts and figures, Court is of the opinion that ,

every citizen of India has the fundamental right to travel throughout the territory of India and settle in any part of the territory of India by virtue of Article 19(1) (d) and (e) of the Constitution of India. However the State is at liberty to impose reasonable restrictions under clause (5) of Article 19.

In the present situation, attempts of the Governments are to contain the pandemic from being spread in an unprecedented and uncontrollable level to protect the interest of the general public and the nation as such.

Thus, looking at that angle it cannot be said that the action of the State officials not permitting the inter-state movement of the people in question is illegal or bad.

Hence Court is also conscious of the fact that there are clear parameters that, a person securing a pass from the host Government can start travel only after receiving the travel permit from the Kerala Government and the local authority of the person’s location to avoid any problem.

Additional Advocate General submitted that directions will be issued to the officials as a special case to issue passes and permit the people stranded at Walayar on 9.5.2020, who are presently accommodated in the guesthouse of the Tamil Nadu Government in Coimbatore, to cross the border.

Court also stated that, all those persons who are crossing the border in accordance with the passes so issued shall strictly adhere to the order and guidelines specified by State Government.

State Government is directed to ensure that basic facilities are provided to the persons reaching the entry points.

Another issue the Court considered was with persons stranded at Malahalla, for which the bench stated that,

even though Malahalla is not an entry point to receive the stranded persons, since it is submitted that 13 students are stranded there, which is also a forest area having presence of wild animals, the respondents shall adequately attend to the said matter so as to avoid any inconvenient situation.

Hence, in view of the above, matter to be posted on 12-5-2020. [Harish Vasudevan v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 635  , decided on 10-05-2020]

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P. Chaly, JJ. while addressing the urgent matter with regard to removal of blockade erected by Karnataka State connecting to State of Kerala in order directed Centre to take note of the same in order to save human lives.

In the present matter, Advocate General of Karnataka submitted that few of the road routes from Karnataka to Kerala bordering Kannur District, that had been blocked by the State of Karnataka could be opened and maintained as such till the lifting of the lockdown arrangement  to facilitate transportation of essential commodities to the State of Kerala.

Further he sought time to ascertain whether it would be possible to remove block over roads bordering Kasaragod District, so as to facilitate the movement of vehicles carrying patients who required urgent medical attention.

Central Government Standing Counsel submitted that efforts were on to try and bring about an amicable resolution of the issue and that a meeting with Chief Secretaries of the two States was also being considered.

Additional Advocate General of Kerala pointed that when the right to life of a citizen is at stake, and the action of State of Karnataka in erecting blockades that prevent the movement of persons seeking medical relief.

The said action goes against the guidelines issued by Centre under Disaster Management Act and Government of Karnataka under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 read with enabling provisions under DMA 2005, Court ought not to wait any longer and must pass urgent orders to protect fundamental right of the citizens.

Central Government Standing Counsel pointed out that although Centre has issued guidelines under DMA, State Governments have been given freedom to relax conditions based on ground realities.

Adding to his submissions, he stated that the issue in question involves policy considerations which this Court would not ordinarily interfere with.

Decision & Analysis of the Court

“We have no option now, but to pass this order with a view to safeguard fundamental rights of citizens during this grim period in our country’s history.”

Th restrictions imposed by the State of Karnataka, through the blockades erected has resulted in loss of many lives.

No results have been produced even after discussion between the Centre and State Government.

Any delay in resolving the stalemate could be catastrophic for the residents of Kasargod District in Kerala.

Bench observed that,

Right of a citizen to move freely throughout the territory of India, subject to reasonable restrictions that may be imposed in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, public order etc. is recognised under Article 19 (1)(d) of Constitution.

A citizen also has a fundamental right to life and personal liberty guaranteed to him by the State under Article 21 of our Constitution.

The above stated rights are simultaneously infringed — in the case of a resident of State of Kerala when he/she is denied entry into State of Karnataka for availing medical treatment or is deprived of essential articles of food that are being transported into the State through blockades erected by State of Karnataka.

Restrictions imposed on transportation of essential articles of food would also amount to breach of rights protected under Articles 301-304 of Constitution of India.

State Government of Karnataka cannot be heard to contend that it is not obliged to respect fundamental right of a citizen who resides outside its territorial limits. 

Being a part of Union of India, State of Karnataka necessarily has to respect and guarantee the fundamental right of a citizen of this country irrespective of the place of his residence or domicile within the country.

Bench in the above view states that,

“..we hope that State Government of Karnataka would take note of the basic principles enshrined in our Constitution and take immediate steps to resolve the present stalemate.”

Hence, concluding it’s decision, the Court held that the material roads that connect Mangalore in Karnataka, to Kasargod in Kerala are a part of National Highway network and it is therefore Central Government’s duty to ensure that the said roads are kept free of blockades.

Restrictions may be imposed in times of national emergency as that is in the present times, but when the guidelines issued by Central Government merits travel for urgent medical treatment, then the said guidelines are necessarily to be enforced through the removal of blockades that prevent such travel.

Court directs Centre to intervene in the present matter and ensure that the blockades are removed without any further delay so as to facilitate free movement of vehicles carrying persons for urgent medical treatment across the border between two States.[Kerala High Court Advocates’ Assn. v. State of Kerala,  2020 SCC OnLine Ker 1302, decided on 01-04-2020]