"Not fair to populace of Goa:" Bombay High Court directs Goa govt to stop entry of persons without COVID negative report into the State
The Bombay High Court's Goa Bench on Thursday directed the Goa government to ensure that no one enters the state without obtaining a COVID negative certificate within 72 hours of arriving. Since the State administration will need time to publicise the necessity of the negative study, the Court announced that the order would take effect on May 10, 2021. As a result, the State was ordered to promptly inform and publicise this directive through the normal channels in order to warn travellers and visitors. We direct the State Administration, by way of interim order, to ensure that no individual is permitted entry into the State unless they have a negativity certificate obtained within 72 hours of the time they request entry into the State, according to the order. The Court did clarify, however, that its order would not prohibit the State government from drafting a protocol to address issues of essential supplies and the process for allowing people involved in essential supplies to enter the country. The Court added that this Protocol should provide protections to ensure that such people are not COVID-positive when they enter the country. The Court went on to say that while free movement of critical services was necessary, there was no reason not to require a negativity certificate from anyone entering the state at a time when Goa's positivity rate was 52 percent. The state should always devise some appropriate procedures to ensure that some testing facilities are available at the borders or entry points, ensuring that critical supplies and staff ingress are not disrupted. However, allowing practically unlimited entry during such crucial periods is not justified, according to the order. The Court also stated that this is not a case of the State's borders being sealed. South Goa Advocates' Association (SGAA) filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking various prayers related to COVID-19 management in the state, and a bench of Justices MS Sonak and MS Jawalkar issued the order. The Court noted that, unlike several other states, including Maharashtra, Goa did not have a protocol requiring an individual to produce a negativity certificate upon entry. In the public interest, the Court stated that the State Government should have placed certain minimum limits on its own. The Bench stated that if the pandemic is to be controlled, certain minimum restrictions must be implemented, as have been done by other states. The Court went on to say that while unrestricted entry made Goa a desirable tourist destination, it was neither fair to Goan citizens who face overburdened medical infrastructure nor to unsuspecting tourists who are often forced to pay a higher price for overburdened services.