New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday asked the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to sit with the central administration to explore the possibility of “one policy, one path or one portal” for movement within the Delhi-NCR amid the nationwide lockdown.
The bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishal Kaul and M.R. Shah asked for a decision to be taken within a week.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Gurgaon resident Rohit Bhalla last month, through advocates Anindita Mitra and Aman Bhalla, demanding Delhi-NCR be considered as a single region and Delhi’s borders with Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Sonipat be opened.
Represented by senior advocate Mukul Talwar, the petitioner asserted it is unconstitutional for the UP and Haryana administrations to restrict movement for permissible activities in areas falling within the NCR through “blanket orders of sealing borders without reasonable exceptions”.
It, therefore, challenged the decisions of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi administrations to restrict movement of individuals for permissible activities and the requirement of applying for movement passes for each of these states on various state government portals.
During the hearing last month, the court had asked for the central government’s response on the petition.
On Thursday, the Centre told the Supreme Court it is the states that would have to decide on interstate movement.
Taking note of this, the court asked the central government to convene a meeting with the states concerned, and find a common programme and portal for interstate movement within the NCR.
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Citizens feeling ‘helpless’: Petition
The petition highlighted the practical difficulties being faced by the citizens due to the sealing of the borders, including hampering of industrial operations since people working for the industries travel across the borders.
“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,” it said.
As an alternative, the petition had demanded a “common portal/mechanism” for issuance of movement passes within the NCR for permissible activities, pointing out that getting passes at the moment usually take around two working days.
This, it said, has led to people from Noida or Gurgaon feeling “helpless” if they wanted to visit a dying or severely sick relative in Delhi.
Covid cases have a ‘Delhi connection’
Filing its response to the petition last month, the Haryana government had told the apex court Delhi has 10 times more Covid-19 cases than Haryana and most of these cases “are mainly due to their Delhi connection”.
The UP government had also submitted last month that the total number of Covid-positive cases in Delhi is a little over 11,000, as compared to the 293 cases in Noida. It pointed out that Delhi, therefore, had 37 times the total number of cases in Noida.
Both the states also highlighted the fact that the MHA guidelines issued on 17 May allow the states and union territories to prohibit certain activities or impose restrictions, “based on their assessment of the situation”.
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