Australia India travel ban legal challenge dropped
India’s ruling party just lost a key election. It’s worrying that they even stood a chance.
The defeat in the state of West Bengal, together with the coronavirus crisis, exposes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s weak points. But the election also hints at the authoritarian’s enduring strengths.But this weekend saw a notable setback for Modi: an electoral defeat by a larger-than-expected margin.
A 73-year-old Australian man has dropped his legal bid to overturn the India travel ban on the eve of its expiry.
Bangalore-based Gary Newman had claimed Health Minister Greg Hunt didn't have the power to interfere with a citizen's right to return home to Australia under the constitution.
But by agreement with the minister, he discontinued the Federal Court proceedings on Friday without progressing that argument to hearing, the law firm representing him confirmed.
Mr Hunt has said the ban, criminalising Australians' return to the country if they've been in the past 14 days, will not be renewed once it lapses at midnight on Saturday.
UN's 'serious concerns' over India travel ban
The UN Human Rights Committee says 'few, if any' circumstances justify depriving citizens of their right to return home. "We have serious concerns about whether the biosecurity determination — and the severe penalties which can be imposed for its breach — meets Australia's human rights obligations," Mr Colville told 9News.com.au, in a statement.That assessment hinged on article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Australia in 1980, which states "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country".
"Pursuing the litigation further at this time would not serve a useful public purpose," Marque Lawyers managing director Michael Bradley said in a statement.
The Federal Court on Monday rejected two other grounds of Mr Newman's challenge, which claimed Mr Hunt had failed to ensure the ban was no more restrictive or intrusive than required and that the Biosecurity Act wasn't clear enough to override Australians' common law right to enter the country.
Lawyers for Mr Newman has asked the court to determine those grounds before moving to the constitutional issues.
Video: Federal court rejects legal challenge brought against India travel ban (Sky News Australia)
Those final two grounds claimed the minister did not have the power to interfere with a citizen's right to return home to Australia, either because of an implied constitutional freedom attaching to citizenship or because the constitution does not give the federal government legislative power to interfere with the fundamental right of return.
India is a Covid tragedy - it didn't have to be
Experts tell the BBC that delays in decision-making worsened the crisis of India's second wave.As he spoke, several small hospitals - only a few miles from where he stood in the capital - were sending out desperate messages about them running out of oxygen, putting patients' lives at risk.
"The question is left hanging," Mr Bradley told AAP.
"If they do try it on again, we would be as concerned as we were this time."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the controversial 'pause' on India flights had worked, after active cases of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine dropped by nearly half over the past few weeks.
"The pause gave our quarantine system much-needed breathing space to minimise the risk of COVID-19 getting out of quarantine into the community and having a third wave here," Mr Morrison said.
"It's all about keeping Australians safe and ensuring we can keep living the way we are ... which is like few other countries in the world."
More than 70 Australians booked on the first repatriation flight out of India will miss out after they either tested positive or were deemed a close contact on Friday.
The plane, due to land in Darwin on Saturday morning, has a capacity of 150.
Labor senator Penny Wong said the situation was "beyond heartbreaking".
What does the India travel ban really say about Australia? .
Crikey readers hack into the government's India travel ban from every angle.Andrew Dunkin writes: Mr Keane attempts to link the government’s decision around penalties for attempting to circumvent a law with health advice upon which a temporary travel restriction has been imposed. This is disingenuous. The health advice supports suspension of travel. Separately, beyond the realm of the chief medical officer, the government decides on measures such as sanctions by which to bring about the desired outcome. Of course the CMO did not recommend penalties, why would he? It is beyond his remit and you are misleading your readers in making people believe otherwise.