Bombay HC: Government Order Imposing Travel Restrictions Not Violative of Fundamental Rights

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The present petition was filed before the Bombay High Court challenging the travel restrictions imposed by the government’s order. The Court dismissed the same and held that the order was in the public interest and does not violate any fundamental rights.

Brief Facts of the Case

The petitioner has filed a petition under Article 226 and 227 of the Indian Constitution before the Bombay High Court. The said petition challenges the Government Order of 7th August 2020 which was issued by the Director of Disaster Management, Maharashtra. The aforesaid Government order imposes travel restrictions on people wanting to travel to Ratnagiri District. The petitioner has challenged this order stating that it interferes with his fundamental rights.

Petitioner’s Submissions

The petitioner has submitted that the abovementioned order curbs his freedom to travel to Ratnagiri District to celebrate Ganesh Festival. The petitioner, in particular, cites issues with Clause 1 and 2 of the said order. Clause 1 refers to a mandatory 10-day home quarantine if one travels to Ratnagiri District before 12 August 2020. This applies irrespective of whether the person travelling has COVID-19. Clause 2, on the other hand, makes it mandatory for all persons travelling after 12 August 2020 to take a COVID-19 test. Furthermore, it is conditioned that a person will be permitted to travel only when he/she tests negative.

The petitioner has submitted that restriction to undergo quarantine is a problematic one. The said restriction is unscientific, harmful to human health, has psychological effects, and affects social relations. It results in frustration, anger, anxiety, economic hardship, etc. The petitioner has submitted that he doesn’t wish to be quarantined since he is prone to anxiety.

Court’s Observations

The Court has opined that other than the effects of quarantine, the present petition is devoid of any other data on the other grounds raised by the petitioner. The Court has observed that the directives issued by the Government order are merely to ensure that citizens do not face any difficulty in visiting places in Ratnagiri District. The said directives have been issued after taking into consideration several orders issued earlier regarding passenger transportation in light of the pandemic. The Court finds it surprising that the petitioner only refers to one government order in the petition despite similar orders which were passed before.

The Court has acknowledged the numerous steps taken by the State to contain the pandemic, including the imposition of lockdown from time to time. The State has also issued several Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) based on the intensity of COVID-19 cases in an area. The Court has pointed out the effectiveness of social distancing in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and highlighted the condition of the State in comparison to the others.

Court’s Decision

The Bombay High Court has relied on the judgment passed by a Division Bench in Jan Swasthya Abhiyan & Anr. v. The State of Maharashtra. In the aforesaid judgment, the Court upheld the discretion of the State to make decisions regarding the management of the pandemic. In the present case, the Court has observed that the Government’s Order in question, and observes that it does not infringe on any fundamental rights of the people. Furthermore, it ensures that the people do not face any difficulty while travelling to their native place in Ratnagiri District and has been issued to contain the spread of the pandemic. In light of the above, the Court has dismissed the petition.


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