Migrants in Calcutta
Migrants in Calcutta
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Supreme Court stays Orissa High Court's order which mandated stranded migrants to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to State

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today stayed the operation of the Orissa High Court's May 7 order which required all migrants who sought to return to the State to first test negative for COVID-19.

The stay on this order came after the Centre filed an urgent petition regard assailing the High Court's order, which was mentioned for urgent hearing before the top Court

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and BR Gavai issued notice on the petition today after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought an urgent hearing, which was accorded by the apex Court.

The Court while staying the High Court's order, further said that the stranded migrants shall be dealt with in accordance with the notifications and orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in this regard.

We stay the interim order dated 07.05.2020. We further clarify that the stranded migrants shall be dealt with as per the order/guidelines of the Government of India dated 29.04.2020 read with the guidelines dated 01.05.2020 issued thereunder by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs
Supreme Court said

The Centre, in its plea, has highlighted that the order passed by the High Court was so done without giving the Centre a hearing on the issue.

There is a Standard operating Procedure (SOP) in place which is being followed by the Centre and the States for facilitating the return of stranded people to their home States. This SOP has not been considered by the High Court, Centre's plea submitted.

"The Impugned Order further ignores the nature of the present pandemic that the country is dealing with and the delicate handling of the situation by the Executive, after consideration of all possible factors."
the Centre has submitted.

The order impinges upon the domain of the Executive, it is argued by the Centre. It is added that the order would make it impossible to perform the exercise of repatriating migrants to their home states.

The Centre as well as the States together are taking all required and necessary precautions at the boarding, travel, and de-boarding stages, the Supreme Court has been told. The Apex Court, in its order observed that the orders of the MHA laying down guidelines in this regard were neither considered by the High Court nor were they under challenge.

We are of the view that the order of the Government of India dated 29.04.2020 provides ample protection. It appears that before the High Court the order of the Government of India dated 29.04.2020 and the guidelines were neither brought into the notice nor were under challenge.
Supreme Court said

The SOP set out by the MHA and the precautionary measures advised by the ICMR are being followed by the executive and the concerned authorities to facilitate travel of the stranded persons, the Centre submitted. The governments at the Centre and various States are taking due regard to ensure that the spread of the contagion is curtailed in the process.

The Centre has also outlined that despite the continued lockdown, the Centre relaxed the norms around inter-State travel and allowed the movement of stranded persons, after having received representations for the same from various quarters.

Keeping in view the prevalent conditions, government authorities are also taking all necessary precaution.

On these contentions, the order of the High Court has been now been challenged by the Central Government.

The petition was filed by Advocate BV Balaram Das and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta with assistance from Advocate Kanu Agrawal for the Government of India.

Read Centre's petition:

Centre SLP against Orissa HC order on COVID 19.pdf
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Read Order:

UOI vs Narayan Order_08-May-2020.pdf
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