New Delhi, May 8: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an Orissa High Court interim order that said only those migrants who tested negative for the COVID-19 virus would be allowed to re-enter the state. 

The top court’s action, delivered by a three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and BR Gavai, comes after the centre said the High Court order was “unworkable” and passed without consultation, NDTV reported.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the centre, said the Orissa High Court had failed to understand the “delicate nature of the situation and did not take into account SOP (standard operating procedure) by other states”. The centre said the high court’s interim order would make it difficult for stranded migrant workers waiting to return to their hometowns and villages.

On Thursday the Orissa High Court suggested the state allow migrant workers to re-enter the state only if they tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.

A two-judge bench of Justices Kumari Sanju Panda and KR Mohapatra adjourned the hearing over a PIL (public interest litigation) but passed an interim order to that effect.

“In the meantime, the state government should ensure that all the migrants who are in the queue to come to Odisha should test negative for COVID-19 before boarding the conveyance,” the bench said.

However, the court did not specify whether the state needed to conduct medical tests or merely thermal screening. Odisha has 219 coronavirus cases and two deaths so far.

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