DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday while hearing a petition regarding designation of districts into red, orange and green zones, directed assistant solicitor general of India and chief standing counsel of Uttarakhand to seek instruction from state and central governments regarding classification of the zones in the hill state.
The division bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice RC Khulbe in the order dated May 14, 2020, stated, "While the decision to classify districts in Red, Orange and Green Zone categories is undoubtedly a policy decision, it must, however, satisfy the test of a valid classification under Article 14. This Court can, undoubtedly, exercise its power of judicial review to ascertain whether or not there was any rational basis for such a classification."
Directions came while hearing public interest litigation by Akshay Sharma, a resident of Haridwar who appeared for the case in person through video conferencing.
The petitioner in his petition alleged that designation of the districts as three different zones is without logic.
The petitioner in his PIL stated that though the number of COVID-19 positive patients in Dehradun district is far more than those in Haridwar District, the state government had recommended and the government of India has classified Haridwar in the Red Zone while declaring Dehradun to be in the Orange Zone.
The petitioner, further added that both Dehradun and Haridwar districts are border districts adjoining the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The threat of a rise in COVID-19 positive cases is in both the districts, because of influx of people from outside the state, is more or less the same.
To date, Uttarakhand has a total of 78 positive cases out of which 39 are in Dehradun, 7 in Haridwar and rest in other districts of the hill state.
Counsels for the center and state government requested the court to grant time till May 18, 2020, to respond.
The lawyers for the governments also added that since the current lockdown is due to end on May 17, 2020, there may be a re-classification of districts, into Red, Orange or Green Zones by then, depending on the number of fresh COVID-19 positive cases identified in each of these zones.