28 July 2021 5:00 AM GMT
The Meghalaya High Court has directed the State Government to deal with the issue of vaccine hesitancy in the State in an effective manner, on a priority basis.Reiterating it's earlier directions passed on June 23, a division bench comprising of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew ordered thus:"We reiterate our earlier observation and direct the State Government to...
The Meghalaya High Court has directed the State Government to deal with the issue of vaccine hesitancy in the State in an effective manner, on a priority basis.
Reiterating it's earlier directions passed on June 23, a division bench comprising of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew ordered thus:
"We reiterate our earlier observation and direct the State Government to deal with the vaccine hesitation issue on a priority basis – with full earnest – effectively."
The development came while dealing with a PIL concerning orders issued by the State Government making vaccination mandatory for shopkeepers, vendors, local taxi drivers etc. before they can resume their businesses.
Earlier, the Court had said that mandatory or forceful vaccination does not find any force in law and hence are to be declared as ultra vires ab initio. It had then issued a slew of directions for encouraging vaccination among citizens and removing any apprehensions in this regard from their minds. Inter alia, it was ordered that in case there is any attempt made by any person/organisation to spread misinformation regarding the efficacy of vaccination amongst the people of this State, the concerned authority of the State shall immediately step in and proceed against such person/organisation in accordance with law.
The Court had also decided to monitor the issue closely so that the State Government is able to overcome the vaccine hesitation problem at the earliest and that all eligible persons in the State are therefore vaccinated well within the timeframe as may be specified by the State.
However, after hearing the Advocate General, the Court observed that the issue still needs to be addressed in detail.
(Meanwhile, Tripura High Court recently observed that there is little or no vaccine hesitancy in its State.)
In view of this, the Court directed the Advocate General to apprise the Court specifically as to the manner in which the vaccine hesitation issue is being dealt with by the State Government on the next date of hearing.
The matter will now be heard on August 9.
Forceful vaccination ultra vires ab initio.
To ensure that people have an "informed choice" with respect to vaccination, the Court had issued a slew of directions to the State Government in respect of vaccination of all shops, establishments, local taxis etc.
"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."
Furthermore, it had said:
"Right to and the welfare policy for vaccination can never affect a major fundamental right; i.e., right to life, personal liberty and livelihood, especially when there exists no reasonable nexus between vaccination and prohibition of continuance of occupation and/or profession. A harmonious and purposive construction of the provisions of law and principles of equity, good conscience and justice reveals that mandatory or forceful vaccination does not find any force in law leading to such acts being liable to be declared ultra vires ab initio."
Case Title: Registrar General, High Court v. State of Meghalaya
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