The Supreme Court today asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain the guidelines issued by the Noida administration on institutional quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic, observing they are not in "conformity" with the national guidelines.
"There cannot be a guideline contrary to the national guidelines," a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan observed, adding that any directive contrary to the national or state guidelines might lead to chaos.
The top court, while hearing through video-conferencing a plea which has raised the issue of restriction on movement for permissible activities in the national capital region (NCR), asked the state government to give it "complete information" on whether asymptomatic persons were put under institutional or home quarantine in Noida.
"It is also brought to our notice that certain guidelines issued by District Magistrate, Noida are not in conformity with the National guidelines and the guidelines issued by the state of Uttar Pradesh," the bench noted in its order.
While asking the Centre to ensure that states do not violate national guidelines, the bench observed that authorities are bound to follow the guidelines.
The Centre told the bench, also comprising Justices SK Kaul and MR Shah, that the home secretary had convened a joint meeting on June 9 with chief secretaries of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to deal with the issue of restriction on movement in the NCR.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that a status report and the decision taken in the meeting shall be filed before the court during the day itself.
Mr Mehta said now there is no barrier on the borders of Delhi and Haryana but Uttar Pradesh has raised some issues.
The bench noted in its order that Mehta has "submitted that although there are no baseless issues with regard to state of Haryana and Delhi, however, with regard to state of Uttar Pradesh there are some different instructions have been issued by the District Magistrate, Noida and there are some issues with regard to border of the state of Uttar Pradesh".
The counsel representing Uttar Pradesh told the bench that they have already filed an status report and are permitting all essential services and medical staffs, lawyers and media persons are allowed.
The counsel told the court that state is bound to follow the national guidelines and appropriate remedial steps, if any, shall be taken by the Noida District Magistrate.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on June 17.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh referred to the number of coronavirus cases and death due to the dreaded virus in Delhi.
He said over 30,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths have been reported from Delhi due to the virus while the numbers were low in Noida and Ghaziabad as compared to Delhi.
The bench was informed that Delhi has allowed home quarantine of affected persons.
When the bench asked lawyer appearing for Uttar Pradesh about the process of quarantining the asymptomatic persons, the advocate said the authorities are following the national guidelines.
"Please check and tell us complete information. There should not be any conflict," the bench observed.
On June 4, the court had asked the Centre to convene a meeting of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana for easing inter-state movement at all borders in the NCR amid certain restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It had also observed that there should be a consistent policy in this regard for the NCR.
The plea, filed through advocate Anindita Mitra, has alleged that "complete sealing of borders" within the NCR and restrictions imposed on movement of citizens was in violation of the new guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The petition has sought to declare as unconstitutional the measures by the district administrations of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh which allegedly restrict movement for permissible activities in areas falling within the NCR due to "blanket orders of sealing borders without reasonable exceptions".
It has referred to the April 29 order of district administrations in Haryana, which is applicable to Gurugram and Sonepat, and May 3 public statement by the district administrations of Uttar Pradesh about Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad.