Kerala-Karnataka border issue resolved, Centre tells SC
New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the issue between Kerala and Karnataka relating to the latter closing the border has been resolved. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for Centre and told SC that there exists no issues now and guidelines have been prepared for transportation of patients between the states.
Those patients from Kerala, who are not coronavirus positive and had been seeking treatment at Managaluru, will be allowed to cross the border to Karnataka, Mehta said.
The bench under Chief Justice S. A. Bobde was considering the case. Mehta in the video conference, however, did not give any details regarding the guidelines prepared.
Also the lawyers who appeared for Kerala and Karnataka didn’t oppose the claim. Following this, the apex court observed that all cases relating to the issue have been resolved.
On Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a press conference that neighbouring Karnataka has agreed to allow ambulances carrying patients other than COVID-19 cases through Talapady border in Kasaragod district for treatment at hospitals in Mangaluru during the ongoing lockdown.
The breakthrough came two days after the Supreme Court through video conferencing asked the Chief Secretaries of Kerala and Karnataka to hold discussions with Union Health Secretary for an amicable settlement of the issue and decide on parameters to be maintained in case of health emergencies.
"Karanataka will open Talapady check post and allow ambulances carrying patients other than COVID-19 infected ones. A medical team of Karnataka will be stationed there and would examine the patient before allowing them to enter that state," he had said.
The patients from Kerala need to carry a certificate mentioning the hospital which they plan to visit in Mangaluru, he had added.
Karnataka had closed its borders with Kerala after Kasaragod became a hotspot of coronavirus with at least 128 positive cases till now.
On Monday, the Kerala government in its affidavit told the top court that Karnataka's blocking National Highways and border roads due to coronavirus, preventing people's access to medical treatment and movement of essential goods, is violative of fundamental rights of the Citizens.
Kerala said that the Union government, under whom the National Highway fall, is duty bound to issue direction to Karnataka to remove such blockade for transporting patients requiring medical attention as well as essential goods to Kerala.
The top court on April 3 asked the Kerala government to not to precipitate the issue of opening of borders till further hearing while asking the Chief Secretaries of both the states to hold discussions with Union Health Secretary for amicable settlement of the issue and decide on parameters to be maintained in case of health emergencies.
The Karnataka 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 the order of the Kerala High Court has been passed wholly without any jurisdiction and is thus liable to be set aside.
The state government said that Karnataka has locked down its borders in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 except the movement of essential commodities.
“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 high court 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.
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 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.