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Kerala HC directs Union Govt to ensure removal of road blockade by Karnataka to allow access to medical aid

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The High Court of Kerala has directed the Central Government to ensure that the Highway connecting Mangalore-Kasaragod is kept free of blockade to allow entry of patients from Kerala to access healthcare in hospitals situated in adjoining state of Karnataka.

The matter pertains to the blockade imposed by the state of Karnataka resulting in problem faced by the residents in Kasargod District, in Kerala, who were prevented from travelling to Mangalore, in Karnataka, for urgent medical treatment from state of Kerala seeking medical relief in hospitals situated in the state of Karnataka.

The bench comprising of Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Shaji P Chaly after being informed that the meeting convened by the Central Government with the Chief Secretaries of the States to reach an amicable solution was unfruitful said “we feel that we have no option now, but to pass this order with a view to safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens during this grim period in our country’s history.”

The bench further highlighting the right to freedom of movement of a citizen under Article 19(1)(d) and right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution observed “both these rights are simultaneously infringed in the case of a resident of the State of Kerala when he/she is denied entry into the State of Karnataka for availing medical treatment, or is deprived of essential articles of food that are being transported into the State through blockades erected by the State of Karnataka.”

The bench further observed that the restrictions imposed on the transportation of essential food commodities amounts to a breach of the rights protected under Arts.301-304 of our Constitution.

The court while pointing out that though it had no jurisdiction to pass orders against the State of Karnataka, however “so long as it is an integral part of the Union of India, the State of Karnataka has necessarily to respect, and guarantee, the fundamental rights of a citizen of this country, irrespective of the place of his residence or domicile within the country.”

Directing the Central Government to remove the blockade the bench observed that “The National Highways come under the administrative jurisdiction of the Central Government and the provisions of the National Highways Act clearly provide for the maintenance of such highways by the Central Government, and even provide for penal measures to be taken against anyone blocking such a highway.”

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-India Legal Bureau

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