SC stays Orissa HC order on conditional return of migrants


New Delhi, –  The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Orissa High Court order, which directed migrants who seek to return to the state must test negative for coronavirus.The Centre moved the apex court challenging this order. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and B.R. Gavai issued notice on the matter and granted stay against the operation of the High Court order passed on May 7.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and advocate Kanu Agarwal cited the circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 29 and May 1, stating that stranded migrants in various states are being allowed to travel in various states only if the migrants are not having any symptoms and further on the condition that the migrants will be quarantined for the requisite time period in their native states.Mehta submitted that the Centre, in conjunction with the state governments, has taken all possible precautionary steps in order to make sure that the travel of migrants does not result in the spread of Covid-19.On Thursday, the High Court, on a petition by Narayan Chandra Jena, passed an order directing all migrants seeking to come back to Orissa, would mandatorily be required to be tested before boarding and would be allowed to board only if the stranded migrant test negative for coronavirus.

“In this regard, it may further be noted that the High Court, in the interim, granted relief to the PIL Petitioner which was not even sought for in the petition,” said the Centre.Mehta contended that the High Court order clearly impinges upon the executive domain and creates an unreasonable and impossible to perform pre-condition on part of the governments and the migrants workers who wish to travel back to their native places. “It is further submitted that the Central government, in conjunction with state governments, is taking all possible precautions at the stage of boarding, during travel, after de-boarding in every State and the subsequent quarantine”, said Centre’s plea.The vehicle or the trains, as the case may be, are duly sanitised.

On the arrival of such groups at their destination, such person(s) would be assessed by the local health authorities, and kept in home quarantine, unless the assessment requires keeping the person(s) in institutional quarantine. “Therefore, there is an ample check at every stage on part of the relevant stakeholders, curtailing the possibility of any spread of Covid-19. It may further be relevant to note that the said decision was only after a considerable time of 40 days had elapsed, thereby making sure the rapid spread of the pandemic was curtailed,” said the Centre.

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