Kerala High Court. (Photo: PTI/File)
Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday sought response of the Centre and state government on a plea alleging that unauthorised COVID-19 testing was being carried out at Calicut airport by a lab which was not approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Besides the Ministries of Health and Civil Aviation, Justice N Nagaresh also issued notice to the Kerala government, ICMR and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and sought their stand on the petition by an NRI.
The petitioner, who works as a driver in a private company at Abu Dhabi, has claimed that he had undergone an RT-PCR (Real time Reverse transcriptionPolymerase Chain Reaction) test on January 25 two days prior to his scheduled departure on January 27 and had tested negative for COVID-19.
However, when he arrived at Calicut airport on January 27, he was "compelled" to undergo a Rapid-PCR test at a cost of Rs 2,490 and he tested positive for COVID-19, the petition, filed through advocate Manas P Hameed, has said.
As a result, he had to leave the airport and could not travel to Abu Dhabi to rejoin his duties, putting him at risk of losing his job there, the petitioner, who was here on a four month vacation, has said in his plea.
Thereafter, when he enquired about the lab -- Micro Health Laboratories -- which tested him at the airport, he found that it was not listed in the list of labs approved by ICMR, the plea has contended.
It has further contended that the results of his test at the airport were also not uploaded on the ICMR website as mandated under the prevailing guidelines and advisories laid down by ICMR.
"It is submitted that the petitioner showed no symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of testing. When the petitioner carried a test report showing a negative result that too issued in less than 48 hours, the respondents 5 (AAI) and 6 (airport director) should have allowed the petitioner to travel instead of forcing to conduct another test.
"Besides the same, the lab has got no approval from the authority to function at the airport," the petition has claimed.
The plea has sought a declaration that "the respondents' act of restraining the petitioner from travelling abroad while carrying an RT-PCR negative certificate is violative of petitioner's fundamental right to travel abroad".
The petitioner has sought a direction to the Centre, state government, ICMR and AAI to permit him to travel abroad if he holds a COVID-19 negative certificate after diagnosing any government approved test before 48 hours of his travel.
He has also sought a reasonable compensation from AAI and the airport director for "the hardships suffered" by him.