The Bombay High Court bench at Goa directed the Government of Goa to ensure that no persons are permitted to enter into the state without a negative covid report issued within 72 hours from the time the travellers’ seek entry into the state.
By: Kriti Dubey, Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the tourism-dependent economy of Goa, a state where hundreds and thousands of visitors come each year during the holiday seasons. Looking at the crucial conditions and the restrictions imposed by almost every state, it was not fair for the populous of Goa to be overwhelmed with the COVID cases just because they were still letting people in. The Bench of Bombay High Court in Goa gave the direction that there will be restrictions on the entry of the persons inside Goa from May 10th, 2021 because of the steep rise in the cases of COVID.
The state was directed to immediately notify and publicize the direction through usual channels so that the travellers and the tourists who are planning to visit Goa will be put to notice. This measure was taken keeping in mind that the positive rate in Goa is 52 percent.
The court added that suitable measures can be formulated by the state to ensure that the testing facilities are available at the borders or entry points on the supplies of essentialities or in the ingress of essential personnel are not affected. But virtually unrestricted entry in such critical times will not be a fair thing to do.
The court was dealing with a bunch of Public Interest litigations where the issues were raised about the measures taken by the state government to curb the spread of the COVID in the state. The Court noted that while taking into the seriousness of the conditions prevailing in the society, these minimum restrictions are a must to handle the situation. The Government should have imposed such minimum restrictions keeping in mind the interest of the public.
It was further opined by the court that keeping in mind that Goa is a favorite tourist destination, it was neither fair to the citizens of Goa to suffer from overburdened medical infrastructure nor it was fair for the tourists to be compelled to avail the facilities at a higher price.
The borders of Goa will not be sealed. It is just a step to make sure that the persons who are entering into Goa are not already COVID positive, fueling the already tensed conditions prevailing in the state and the people will be better-taken care of if they remain in their state.
The order was passed by Justices M.S. Sonak and M.S. Jawalkar in a public interest litigation filed by the South Goa advocates association seeking various prayers connected with COVID management in the state.
Apart from the issues already mentioned, the PIL also raised certain other issues of which the court sought compliance:
- Position of the vaccination drive in the state especially for the marginalized and downtrodden of the state
- Security and well being of the health care workers and professionals
- Position of medical infrastructure, oxygen supply, essential medicines, and testing facilities in the state.
The court added regarding the protection of the health care workers that everyone owes them gratitude who have gone beyond the call of their duty and toiled day in and day out relentlessly without any rest amidst the serious crisis. The minimum we can owe to them is security. The message should go out loud and clear that zero tolerance will be shown for any form of physical and verbal violence against healthcare workers. State administration should post round-the-clock police personnel at hospitals.
For the supply of the oxygen, the virtual control rooms are to be created in pursuance of the Supreme Court. The High Court directed the state administration to file an affidavit as to the need of the state and whether this need is met by the supplies made from various sources.