Curb on unvaccinated persons from earning livelihood arbitrary: HC

Aizawl: The Gauhati High Court held the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Mizoram Government restricting the unvaccinated persons from earning their livelihood arbitrary and not in consonance with the provisions of Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

A division bench of the Aizwal bench of the High Court comprising of Justice Michael Zothankhum and Justice Nelson Sailo on Friday in their order observed that the SOP issued by the Mizoram government on June 29 are arbitrary and not in consonance with the provisions of Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

“The said impugned clauses are interfered with, to the extent that the allowances available and given to vaccinated persons shall also be made equally applicable to unvaccinated persons. The state are accordingly directed to issue a corrigendum of the June 29 SOP at the earliest incorporating the directions,” the HC order said.

The Mizoram government’s SOP had said that all people in the state of Mizoram are to be vaccinated or else they would not be allowed to leave their houses to procure or obtain essential items, goods or earn their livelihood by working in shops, stores, driving public, commercial transport vehicles etc.

“The restriction placed upon un-vaccinated persons only due to non-vaccination is unreasonable and arbitrary,” the High Court order said while acting on a petition against the SOP, issued by the state Chief Secretary.

The next date of hearing in the case is on July 14.

In his submission before the court, the additional advocate general of Mizoram C. Zoramchhana told the court that the state government has made arrangements for mass vaccination of the people of the state free of cost and the vaccination process is under way.

He said that the first dose of Covishield vaccination has been given to 5,19,452 persons (67 per cent of the eligible persons). Zoramchhana told the court that the target for Covishield vaccination (first dose) is 7,75,106 persons.

However, he submits that he cannot say as to how many more months would be required for completion of the first dose of the vaccine on the targeted eligible persons.

Meanwhile, a division bench of the Meghalaya High Court comprising Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew last month held that administration of vaccine by way of coercive methods vitiates the fundamental purpose of welfare attached to vaccination, and ordered that the vaccination orders issued by the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of the districts should be seen as “persuasive advisory”.

The Meghalaya High Court order said that Article 21 of the Constitution encompasses within its fold the right to health as a fundamental right.

“By that same analogy, the 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,” the High Court order had said.