The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Centre to clarify its stand on a plea which has raised the issue of alleged restriction on movement for permissible activities in the national capital region (NCR) owing to sealing of borders due to COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, hearing the matter through video-conferencing, said it needed to know the Centre’s stand on the issue and asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to take instructions from the government.
The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and M R Shah, said the counsel appearing for the petitioner may serve a copy of the plea to the SG who may obtain instructions on behalf of the Centre as well as the Delhi government and file their responses.
The apex court was informed by the advocates representing Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that they have already filed their responses on the plea.
“Let the affidavit filed by the state of Haryana and state of Uttar Pradesh be brought on the record,” the bench said in its order. The apex court has posted the matter for hearing after a week.
During the brief arguments, the counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh referred to the number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi and Noida and said that the authorities are cautious.
On May 15, the apex court had sought responses from the Centre and governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi on the plea which has alleged that “complete sealing of borders” within the NCR and restrictions imposed on movement of citizens was in violation of the new guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The plea has also sought to declare as unconstitutional the measures by the district administrations of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh which allegedly restrict movement for permissible activities in areas falling within the NCR due to “blanket orders of sealing borders without reasonable exceptions”.
The plea has referred to the April 29 order of district administrations in Haryana, which is applicable to Gurugram and Sonepat, and May 3 public statement by the district administrations of Uttar Pardesh about Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad.
It has alleged that these measures are in violation of the MHA’s May 1 guidelines which allow movement for permissible activities and has been adopted by these states.
It has sought to declare as illegal such measures which restricts movement in the NCR or National Capital Region.
“Residents of NCR who have family members or loved ones residing on either side of the inter-state border within the NCR are facing harassment in crossing the said inter-state borders in cases of medical emergency, access to hospitals/healthcare professionals and essential needs.
There is no manner of expediting a pass for medical emergencies,” the plea has claimed. It has sought directions to governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to set up and maintain a common portal or mechanism for movement passes within the NCR for permissible activities as per MHA’s guidelines.