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Don't Persuade People To Get Vaccinated Or Provide For Disincentives Upon Their Refusal: Meghalaya HC To State Govt

Sparsh Upadhyay
17 Dec 2021 7:02 AM GMT
Dont Persuade People To Get Vaccinated Or Provide For Disincentives Upon Their Refusal: Meghalaya HC To State Govt
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Dealing with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea filed to deal with the COVID pandemic situation in the state, the Meghalaya High Court on Thursday asked the State Government not to relent on the vaccination drive or try to persuade people to take the vaccination or even provide for disincentives upon their refusal.This direction came from the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee...

Dealing with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea filed to deal with the COVID pandemic situation in the state, the Meghalaya High Court on Thursday asked the State Government not to relent on the vaccination drive or try to persuade people to take the vaccination or even provide for disincentives upon their refusal.

This direction came from the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh while posting the matter for further hearing in February 2022 as it noted that the number of covid cases in the State has been on the decline.

On the previous hearing (December 6) the Court had noted that there are reservations in certain quarters regarding vaccination.

Therefore, the Court last week asked the State to adopt an aggressive policy in undertaking awareness drives and trying to convince people to vaccinate themselves, not only for their own benefit but also for the protection of others.

On December 6, the Court has asked the State Government, District Councils, and other authorities, including the Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority to undertake a campaign to educate people and convince them to take the vaccination.

The Court had also made it open to the State to formulate rules or guidelines so that persons unwilling to take vaccination do not expose themselves to others.

It may be noted that the Meghalaya High Court has already held that mandatory or forceful vaccination does not find any force in law and hence are to be declared as ultra vires ab initio.

A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice HS Thangkhiew had in June 2021 observed thus:

"Article 21 encompasses within its fold, right to health, as a fundamental right. By that same analogy, right to health care, which includes vaccination, is a fundamental right. However, vaccination by force or being made mandatory by adopting coercive methods, vitiates the very fundamental purpose of the welfare attached to it. It impinges on the fundamental right(s) as such, especially when it affects the right to means of livelihood which makes it possible for a person to live."

The Meghalaya High Court had majorly relied on the Puttaswamy judgment to highlight mandatory vaccination as a violation of the fundamental right to privacy.

Recently, the Meghalaya High Court has also requested the State Government to not insist on the production of Aadhar cards as the only proof of identification for the purpose of administering the covid-19 vaccination.

Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew had reasoned that there were other recognized options available to a citizen of this country to show their proof of identity.

"In some places in the State of Meghalaya and particularly in remote villages, there are eligible persons who cannot be vaccinated simply because they do not possess any AADHAAR Card. We would request the State not to insist on production of AADHAAR Card as the only proof of identity since there are other recognised options available to citizens of India to present their proofs of identity," the bench had said.

Case title - Registrar General, High Court v. State of Meghalaya

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