Why in news?
Karnataka on 2nd April 2020 challenged in the Supreme Court a Kerala High Court order on April 1 to remove the road blockade at the inter-State border to facilitate flow of vehicles carrying essential items and patients in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- The border had been sealed to “combat the spread of the pandemic by preventing the movement of people from the bordering districts of Kerala to Karnataka.”
- Kerala is the “worst affected” State in the country with coronavirus cases.
- In this, Kasaragod, adjoining Karnataka, is the “worst -affected” district of Kerala with over a 100 positive cases.
- Opening the blockade now would cause a law and order issue within Karnataka as the local population wants the border sealed.
- It is of grave importance that the affected districts be sealed and the pandemic be stopped from spreading to newer areas.
- The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on April 3 a writ petition filed by Kasaragod MP for an order to open the State border.
- Since Karnataka had blocked roads, the movement of ambulances and other emergency vehicles for patients’ treatment and for the transport of commodities to Kerala had been hindered.
- The people of Kasaragod depended entirely on the medical facilities in Mangaluru.
- Kasaragod MP said Karnataka’s blockade is “ill-planned and dangerous” and has already led to the loss of lives.
- Two patients from Kerala, in need of urgent medical care, died after their ambulances were denied entry at the border by the Karnataka authorities.
- The petition stated that the blockade was against the Constitution and violated constitutional guarantees such as the right to travel, the right to food, and the right to health care.
- That national highways were the property of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the State government had no authority to block them.
- The NHAI had not given Karnataka permission to block the roads.
- The blockade was against the directive of the Union government to all State governments that the transportation of all goods, without the distinction of essential and non-essential ones, be allowed during the lockdown period.
- Karnataka’s refusal to open the roads was against the guidelines of the Union government and against the interest of the public at large.