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Friday, July 30, 2021

PIL in Manipur HC against giving priority to vaccinated people while easing Covid restrictions

The petitioner said that restraining people who are yet to be vaccinated from earning livelihood by linking their employment to their vaccination status would be illegal on the part of the state.

Written by Jimmy Leivon | Imphal |
Updated: July 14, 2021 7:20:23 pm
A medic administers a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at a camp in Imphal East district, Friday, July 9, 2021. (PTI/File)

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the High Court of Manipur challenging a government notification giving priority to vaccinated people while relaxing Covid-19 curbs in the state. The petition was filed by a social activist seeking an interim relief to set aside the notification claiming it illegal.

On June 30, the home department issued a notification that the state proposes to relax curfew and containment zone order in a calibrated manner by assessing the Covid infection scenario. However, while opening up, without compromising public health and safety, the government prioritised opening up of institutions, markets, offices among others based on the vaccination status of the people. Moreover, the notification also applied to NREGA job card-holders and workers of government and private projects.

The petitioner observed that restraining people who are yet to get vaccinated from opening institutions, organisations, factories, and shops, and thus denying them their livelihood by linking their employment to their vaccination status would be illegal on the part of the state, if not unconstitutional.

Moreover, the petition claimed that such a measure would also trample upon the freedom of the individual to decide whether or not to get vaccinated.

The Manipur government issued the notification, in keeping with the policy of the central government, seeking to promote Covid vaccinations. But, the ground reality is that there are a lot of apprehensions on the part of the people about possible side-effects and other risks of vaccination.

“It is for the state government to dispel such fears by educating people as to the advantages of getting vaccinated and erase their apprehension of the adverse consequences of getting vaccinated. Without addressing this issue, the state cannot seek to impose conditions upon the citizens to compel them to get vaccinated, be it by holding out a threat or by putting them at a disadvantage for failing to get vaccinated”, the petitioner stated.

In response, the high court asked the respondents to file their reply by July 27. In the meantime, the court ordered that the notification shall not be given effect to, even if the state resorts to any further relaxations, until the next hearing, due on July 28.

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