A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka orally remarked that roads cannot be closed in violation of the guidelines issued by the Central government; instead infrastructure should be put in place to screen people.
“You can’t keep the roads closed. Create infrastructure for checking persons (for COVID-19) at borders,” the Court said.
The Bench said that the State’s action was in contravention of clause 8 of the order issued by the Ministry of Health Affairs (MHA) on January 27, 2021 which specifically mentions that there shall be no restrictions intra state or inter state for movement of people and goods.
“What is done by the Karnataka Govt is contrary to clause 8 of the MHA order,” the Court said.
The Court, therefore, proceeded to direct the State to take a decision in the matter in the light of clause 8 of the January 27 order.
The Division Bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition challenging the restrictions imposed by Karnataka government on the movement of public along the Kerala-Karnataka Border in view of Covid-19.
The petitioner has contended that the travel restrictions at the border are affecting the persons residing in border districts of both States as they depend upon the inter-state travel via road for their livelihood, education, trade, commerce and health.
During the hearing, the petitioner advocate submitted that out of twenty-five border points, only four are open at present.
Hearing this, the counsel for the Central government apprised the Court that the Centre does not permit closure of any roads now.
“They (State Government) have to keep it open,” he said.
The State government counsel, on the other hand, told the Court that the order of the Deputy Commissioner of the District Disaster Management Authority Dakshina Kannada, restricting the movement at the border is being modified.
In view of the same, the Court thought it fit to adjourn the case by a week. It will now be heard on March 11.