The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed two pleas challenging Karnataka government's decision to restrict entry from Kerala at borders of Kasaragod and Mangalore only to those having a negative RT-PCR report, saying the neighbouring state was well within its powers to issue such directions.
The high court said it was an admitted fact there was no blockade of the roads from Kerala to Karnataka and the restrictions, like a negative RT-PCR certificate, were imposed within that state in view of the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 pandemic prevalent in Kerala.
"Therefore, going by the guidelines issued by the central government, it is clear that under any such circumstances, the states are given the power and responsibility to impose reasonable restrictions, so as to combat the disease.
"Therefore, state of Karnataka was well within its powers to issue circulars, orders or guidelines under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in consonance with various guidelines issued by the central government," a bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said and dismissed the two PILs, one by A K M Ashraf, the IUML MLA from Manjeshwar and the other by Jayananda K R, the Secretary of Rastrakavi Manjeshwara Govinda Pai Smaraka Samithi.
The bench further said that the Karnataka government has the necessary leverage to issue circulars, taking into account the situations prevailing in the neighbouring states of Kerala and Maharashtra.
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"Viewed from that angle, it can never be said that a part of cause of action for the writ petitions has arisen within the state of Kerala. This is more so when there is no absolute prohibition for the citizens of Kerala to travel to Karnataka by any means, but we can only view it as restrictions imposed by the state of Karnataka.
"Whether the restrictions imposed within the State of Karnataka are reasonable or not, is a matter to be considered and decided by the jurisdictional High Court," the bench said in its 100-page judgement.
It further said that a "wholesome appreciation of the facts and circumstances" would show that no part of the cause of action, as regards the circulars issued by Karnataka government or its officials, would arise in Kerala.
"Therefore, we have no hesitation to hold that the petitioners have failed to establish territorial jurisdiction of this court in interfering with the circulars issued by the state of Karnataka dated July 31 and accordingly, we decline the reliefs sought for by the petitioners in the background of the circulars so issued. In the result, the writ petitions are dismissed for want of territorial jurisdiction," the bench said.
The petitioners had contended that the travel restrictions had resulted in people from Kerala being unable to enter Karnataka for any emergent situations and therefore, it was totally illegal and violative of the fundamental rights of citizens.
The blockade was also causing disruption in trade, supply of food and other essential items and interfering with the rights of the citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India, the two PILs -- one of them filed by advocate P V Anoop -- had claimed.
The pleas had also claimed that people of Manjeshwar rely entirely upon the medical facilities at Dakshin Kannada district/Mangalore city and its adjacent areas, since it is the nearest medical hub available.The Karnataka government had opposed the two pleas on the ground that the entire cause of action arises within that state, and the petitioners should challenge the circulars before the High Court of Karnataka.