KOCHI: The Karnataka government on Thursday informed the Kerala High Court that the inter-state travel restriction is to protect the fundamental right to life and health of not only persons residing in Karnataka but across the country including Kerala.
"Moreover, since the borders are open for free movement of persons and goods, there is absolutely no violation of Articles 19 or 301 of the Constitution," stated the affidavit.
P Ravikumar, Chief Secretary, Karnataka filed the affidavit in response to the petition filed by Manjeshwar MLA AKM Ashraf seeking a directive to ensure free Inter-State travel between Kerala and Karnataka, especially for daily commuters to and fro Manjeshwar and Dakshina Kannada Districts in light of the latest order of Ministry of Home Affairs. He also sought a directive not to insist on an RT PCR negative certificate not older than 72 hours to cross the borders with Kerala.
The requirement for production of a negative RT PCR certificate is mandatory for all fights across the country. Besides, several other states including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Madhya Pradesh and Union Territories have imposed measures requiring persons to produce RT PCR negative certificates in order to be permitted to enter the respective states. Such measures are, in fact, welcome in the fight against the pandemic. It was well accepted and recommended across the world, including by the Union of India, that effective testing and containment are two of the most important ways of fighting the pandemic. The measures that have currently been imposed by the state of Karnataka address both the requirements, as it ensures that persons are tested, and also that the virus is not permitted to spread.
The requirement for production of RT PCR test reports that are not older than 72 hours has been relaxed in cases of students and persons, who are regularly required to cross the border into Karnataka, and such persons are required to produce reports that are not older than 15 days. There are also exemptions provided in respect of health case professional children below two years and passengers travelling for grave emergency situations. "Therefore, the requirement set out for production of RT PCR test reports is well considered and takes into account the interests of persons residing in Kerala as well. It cannot under any circumstances be said to be unreasonable or violative of any fundamental or legal rights," stated the Chief Secretary.
Karnataka Chief Secretary pointed out that the Technical Advisory Committee held on August 15, has discussed in detail about the compulsory RT PCR testing of persons coming from Kerala, irrespective of vaccination status.The proceedings would reveal that the TAC has considered the Test Positivity Rate in each of the districts in Kerala, the number of daily cases reported in Kerala and Karnataka and the high incidence of COVID cases in the districts border Kerala.
It was on careful consideration of all the data available that the TAC reiterated its recommendation for mandatory production of RT PCR test reports, irrespective of vaccination status. On the other hand, it has been noticed that Kerala has seen an alarming increase in the number of daily Covid-19 cases registered. As per reports, the number of active cases in Kerala as on August 21 was 1,78,480, which is about 9 times higher than that in Karnataka.
Karnataka made it clear that the requirement for negative RT PCR reports is only a temporary measure, which will be reviewed by the state of Karnataka ater the COVID 19 situation in Kerala improves and the spread of the virus has been effectively contained.
The demands in the petition are beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the Kerala High Court, hence it should be dismissed.
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