Australian Man Stranded in Bengaluru Files Urgent Appeal Against Indian Travel Ban
By: Prateek Sachdeva
A 73-year-old Australian man stranded in Bangalore, India, has filed a legal challenge against the Scott Morrison government’s coronavirus travel ban that has made it a crime for him to return home, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt on April 30 had issued an emergency declaration under the Biosecurity Act, saying that from Monday onwards, anyone who has been in India within 14 days of their intended arrival date in Australia will be banned from entering the country. Failing to comply with the new order could result in a jail sentence for five years, a $66,000 fine, or both.
Due to this travel restriction, an estimated 9,000 Australians are stuck in India, 600 of whom are classed as vulnerable. Gary Newman, the 73-year-old man from Melbourne, travelled to India to visit friends in March 2020 and has been stuck here ever since.
Newman’s lawyer Michael Bradley and barrister Chris Ward SC lodged his challenge in the Federal Court in Sydney before Justice Stephen Burley on Wednesday afternoon. Newman’s lawyers argue that the commonwealth is acting outside its powers and that the minister's declaration is in breach of implied freedom to return home. Christopher Ward, the barrister representing Newman, says that his client was challenging the ban on several grounds of constitutionality, “proportionality and reasonableness.”
The Australian travel ban on India has been labelled “controversial”, and many people including Morrison’s own allies are calling him “racist”, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied any accusation of racism.
With India crossing the 4,00,000 daily COVID cases mark and 2,00,000 daily COVID-deaths mark, the conservative government has argued that the ban is necessary to prevent Australia's quarantine facilities from being overwhelmed with Covid-positive arrivals, NDTV reported.
The ban — which has been described as a “temporary pause” on travel by the government — came into effect on Monday and will last until May 15, reported ABC.
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