The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to remove the border blockade imposed by Karnataka to allow entry for patients from Kerala to access emergency medical care in hospitals in Karnataka. The High Court also said that the Karnataka government had no powers to close it.
"We, therefore, direct the Central Government to forthwith intervene in the matter and ensure that the blockades erected by the State of Karnataka, on the National Highways connecting the said State to the State of Kerala, are removed forthwith, and without any further delay, so as to facilitate the free movement of vehicles carrying persons for urgent medical treatment, across the border between the two States," the High Court observed.
"We may re-iterate that we expect the Central Government to act expeditiously in this matter, taking note of the human lives that are at stake," the High Court added.
The High Court said that the denial of access to health services amounted to an infringement of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It also noted that the action of Karnataka was illegal, as it was contrary to the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on March 24 exercising powers under the Disaster Management Act.
As per these guidelines, states cannot hinder inter-state transport for essential services, the High Court pointed out. Also, a state government has no authority to block a National Highway, which is an exclusive preserve of the NHAI as per the National Highway Act, it added.
The High Court also rejected the argument by Karnataka government that Kerala High Court has no jurisdiction over the issue. A bench comprising Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly passed the interim order on a plea filed by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association, seeking directions for opening the road borders closed by Karnataka in the wake of COVID-19. Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention.
With 437 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, the tally of COVID-19 positive cases in India shot up to 1,834 on Wednesday night. The number of deaths in the country due to COVID-19 has risen to 41. The total number of active cases in the country is 1,649. 143 persons have been cured and discharged from the hospitals. One person has migrated, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
(With ANI inputs)