New Delhi: The Karnataka government has moved the Supreme Court challenging a Kerala High Court order asking the Centre to intervene and remove the blockades erected by it on the national highways connecting the two states for ferrying essential goods amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The plea will be taken up for hearing by a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta on Friday.
The state government's plea filed by advocate Shubhranshu Padhi said, "The issue involved in the present SLP (special leave petition) is with regard to the closure of a road between the State of Karnataka and State of Kerala in order to combat the spread of the pandemic COVID-19...from the bordering districts of the states."
The plea said that the order of the Kerala High Court has been passed wholly without any jurisdiction and is thus liable to be set aside.
"The said direction has been passed despite the earlier observations in the same impugned order that the High Court had no territorial jurisdiction to issue any direction to the State of Karnataka to remove any impediments which are located in the state. On the face of it, the impugned order has been passed wholly without any jurisdiction and is thus liable to be set aside on this ground alone, the plea said.
The state government said that Karnataka has locked down its borders in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The State of Karnataka had specifically closed the Makutta Check post on the Mysore-Virajepat-Kannur highway. However, the High Court vide the impugned order has directed central government to intervene and remove the closure on the said road, it said.
The plea said that the order passed by Karnataka is based on adequate material as the existing facilities in the Mangalore district would not support patients from outside the state and there was every possibility of a serious outbreak of COVID-19 in the border districts of Karnataka, if free ingress and egress of patients is allowed.
The High Court had on April 1 gave the order on a PIL seeking directions for opening of the roads connecting Kasaragod in Kerala and Mangaluru in Karnataka, which had been closed by Karnataka in view of the lockdown to check the COVID-19 outbreak.
"...we feel compelled to issue directions to the central government today because we are of the view that any further delay could entail loss of precious lives of our citizens", the Court had said in its order delivered on Wednesday night after a detailed hearing earlier in the day.
The order came amid reports of deaths of at least seven seriously ill persons after the ambulances carrying them to hospitals in Mangaluru, 15 kms from Kasaragod, were allegedly not allowed by Karnataka police on the borders.
The court had said the national highways come under the administrative jurisdiction of the central government and that the provisions of the National Highways Act clearly provide for the maintenance of such highways by it.
The act even provides for penal measures to be taken against anyone blocking such a highway, it said.
The arterial roads that connect Mangaluru in Karnataka, to Kasaragod in Kerala were part of the National Highway network and it is therefore the duty of the central government to ensure that the said roads are kept free of blockades, the court had said.
The Kerala government on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure unrestricted movement of essential goods through inter-state borders during the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.
"Neighbouring states should not create hurdles during this crisis period and all states should fight this pandemic together," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told Modi during a video conference with the Prime minister on Thursday.