The Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Amreshwar Pratap Sahi, has refused to declare as unconstitutional a stipulation imposed by the State government requiring people to obtain e-passes for inter-State and intra-State travel to control the spread of COVID-19.

NEWS STATES TAMIL NADU
TAMIL NADU
‘Insistence on e-pass not unconstitutional’
Legal Correspondent
CHENNAI 19 AUGUST 2020 23:59 IST
UPDATED: 19 AUGUST 2020 23:59 IST

System merely regulates travel, says CJ
The Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Amreshwar Pratap Sahi, has refused to declare as unconstitutional a stipulation imposed by the State government requiring people to obtain e-passes for inter-State and intra-State travel to control the spread of COVID-19.

Presiding over the first Division Bench, along with Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, the Chief Justice said there was nothing unconstitutional about the e-pass system since it only regulates free movement in the public interest, and does not prohibit or restrict travel altogether.

The litigant, S. Aravind, a cab driver, had claimed that the State had no right to impose curbs on travel, and such action was in violation of the fundamental right to move freely across the country, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution.

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The litigant’s counsel, S. Sendamarai Kannan, stated that people were facing immense problems due to the insistence on e-passes. However, State government Pleader V. Jayaprakash Narayanan told the court that the government had relaxed the conditions for issuing e-passes.

After recording their submissions, the Division Bench pointed out that the insistence on obtaining e-passes neither restricts nor prohibits free movement. It only regulates the movement of people in order to control the spread of the pandemic.

“This has been done in the larger interest of the management of the entire COVID-19 pandemic situation, and to regulate the travel of infected people coming in from other States or countries. We, therefore, do not find any reason to strike down the continuance of the e-pass system on account of any violation of fundamental rights,” the judges said.

They, however, left it open to the State government to reconsider the system of issuing e-passes as and when an occasion for doing so arises

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