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‘Arunachal Pradesh’s Covid SOP violates Art 14, 19, 21 of Constitution’

'Arunachal Pradesh's Covid SOP violates Art 14, 19, 21 of Constitution'

The Itanagar Bench of the Gauhati High Court on Monday held that the classification between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons for issuance of temporary permits for developmental works in both public and private sector in Arunachal Pradesh violates Articles 14, 19(1)(d) and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

A single judge bench of Justice Nani Tagia stayed the implementation of a clause of an order issued by the Arunachal Pradesh government on June 30. The clause stated that temporary permits for developmental works in both public and private sector in the state may be issued provided such persons are vaccinated for Covid-19.

Staying the clause of the order, the court observed, “The clause of the order issued by chief secretary cum chairperson of state executive committee, government of Arunachal Pradesh, on June 30 discriminates between Covid-19 vaccinated persons and Covid-19 unvaccinated persons for issuance of temporary permits for developmental works in both public and private sector in the State of Arunachal Pradesh.”

The court also issued notice to the government in the plea returnable on July 28.

Also read: Gauhati High Court directs Nagaland govt to provide food to poor under Food Security Act

The Court was dealing with a PIL wherein the petitioner had argued that as per the RTI information furnished by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Covid-19 vaccination is not a mandatory but a voluntary.

Stating so, it was submitted that the impugned clause allowing temporary permits to be issued for developmental works in both public and private sector to only those persons who are vaccinated for Covid-19, interferes with the rights of the citizens provided under Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution of India to move freely throughout the territory of India.

On the other hand, it was submitted on behalf of the state government that the restrictions provided under the clause of the order was due to the rising Covid cases in the state and thus, fell into the category of ‘reasonable restrictions’ issued with the objective of containing the spread of virus.

The court further viewed that there is no evidence available either in the record or in the public domain that Covid-19 vaccinated persons cannot be infected with Covid-19 virus, or he/ she cannot be a carrier of a Covid-19 virus and consequently, a spreader of Covid-19 virus.

“In so far as the spread of Covid 19 Virus to others is concerned, the Covid-19 vaccinated and unvaccinated person or persons are the same. Both can equally be a potential spreader if they are infected with Covid-19 Virus in them.” the Court said at the outset.

Meanwhile, during a hearing of another PIL, the high court took suo motu cognizance of the ‘alarming situation’ of the second wave of the pandemic after observing that extremely high positivity rate in Nagaland, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh.

The bench of Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, Justices N Kotiswar Singh, and Manash Ranjan Pathak directed the advocate generals of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh to be present before the court on the July 23 and apprise the court about the present Covid-19 situation and the measures taken to handle the crisis.

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Written by Mukut Das

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