The Bombay High Court on Tuesday pointed out that Maharashtra government orders banning unvaccinated people from traveling in the local trains was "illegal" and brazenly affected the fundamental rights of all the citizens. The high court pulled up the state government and said that the order issued by then Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte was against the law.
The high court asked the government whether it would revoke the prohibition on travelling and directed it to come up with an appropriate solution by February 25. The court also pointed out that Mumbai has been reporting fewer COVID-19 cases. On February 21, a day before the matter was heard in court, Mumbai reported only 98 cases.
The high court's observation comes as a relief to the millions of people who are dependent on the local trains for their daily travels.
Responding to the court's observation advocate Anil Anturkar submitted that the three impugned orders stood withdrawn. However, it was too early to say whether the prohibitions have been revoked. Anturkar, representing the Maharashtra state government, added that the orders to travel in the local trains would depend on the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the city and the state.
The high court was hearing a plea that challenged three government orders, issued on July 15, August 10, and August 11, 2021, which allowed only fully vaccinated persons from using the local trains, which is considered the lifeline of the metropolis. Advocate Nilesh Ojha, representing one of the petitioners and who is a part of the Awaken India movement (a group which is known to raise its voice against mandatory COVID vaccination0, submitted that the state did not think before creating the travel SOPs which discriminated against those the unvaccinated. The orders also went against the government's rules, Ojha added.
On several occasions the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has clarified that vaccination is not mandatory in the country. The Meghalaya and Guwahati High Courts also emphasised that vaccines are not mandatory when government officials in the states made it compulsory for state government employees to be vaccinated.
India currently has over 96 percent of its adult population which has received at least one dose of the vaccine and over 77 percent of its adult population is fully vaccinated. Even close to 60 percent of children between the age of 15-17 have received one dose of Covaxin and a few have also received the second dose. Students in this age group are allowed to attend college if they have been fully vaccinated.
Updated On: 2022-02-23T18:51:11+05:30