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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Allowing only fully-vaccinated persons to avail public transport doesn’t violate rights: Maharashtra government

🔴 The chief secretary claimed the decision did not violate any fundamental rights of the citizens and that their objective was to protect the lives of citizens.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: December 23, 2021 1:22:18 am
Maharashtra Chief Secretary told the Bombay High Court that the decision to permit only “fully-vaccinated” persons to board suburban local trains in Greater Mumbai area did not violate any fundamental rights of the citizens. (Representational image)

Chief Secretary Debashish Chakrabarty on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the decision to permit only “fully vaccinated” people to board suburban local trains in Greater Mumbai area was taken as Articles 14, 19 and 21 of Constitution permits reasonable restrictions to be imposed in the interest of general public as unvaccinated persons will endanger their own lives and of their families as well as others.

The chief secretary, who is also the CEO of State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), said the decision did not violate any fundamental right of the citizens and the object behind it was to protect the lives of citizens and allowing non-vaccinated persons to mix with others taking public transport will invite an “explosive transmission of the Covid-19.”

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik has been hearing petitions challenging the Maharashtra government’s decision in August to permit only “fully vaccinated” people to board local trains, and visit malls and workplaces. The pleas filed by activists Feroze Mithiborwala and Yohan Tengra have sought that all people in Mumbai Metropolitan Region be allowed to travel by local trains, irrespective of their vaccination status.

“Allowing unvaccinated persons to mix with people, by using the public transport will only endanger and will invite the explosive transmission of the coronavirus and its subsequent variants and the government of Maharashtra as Parens Patriae (power to protect persons who are unable to act on their own behalf) cannot afford to take that risk,” the affidavit of the chief secretary stated.

The affidavit filed by the chief secretary stated that the restrictions on persons who are not “fully vaccinated” are not only on suburban trains but on all other types of public transport. Therefore, there is no discrimination in allowing any person “without doses” in ‘some’ modes of transport as claimed by the petitioners.

“It is the choice of the person, but if that person chooses not to take both the doses, then he will not be permitted to make the use of public transport services, because allowing him to make use of the same will endanger his own life, which the government of Maharashtra is interested in protecting, and endangering lives of others on account of such a person,” the reply read.

The bench asked the petitioners to file rejoinder to the state’s affidavits and posted further hearing to January 3, 2022.

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