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Law

Forcible Administration of Shots Impinges on Fundamental Rights: Meghalaya HC

The court made the observation after directing shops and public vehicle drivers to display the vaccination status of employees or functionaries prominently.

New Delhi: The Meghalaya high court said on June 24 that forcible administration of vaccine goes against the “fundamental purpose of welfare” attached to vaccination.

The court’s observation, made in the context of rules that forced shopkeepers and taxi drivers to be vaccinated as a pre-condition for resuming their work, was reported first by Bar and Bench.

“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,” Indian Express has quoted from the report.

A bench of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew, said the government cannot act in a way that would impinge upon the fundamental right to livelihood, guaranteed in Article 19(1) of the constitution.

On Wednesday, the same bench had asked all shops, business houses and commercial vehicles in the state to put on display the COVID-19 vaccination status of their employees at a “conspicuous” place to allow people make a conscious decision before using their services.

The court, which filed a suo motu PIL in the interest of common people, also warned of stern action against anyone involved in spreading misinformation on the vaccination drive.

The division bench of the high court said in its order on Wednesday, “At the outset, it must be stated clearly and unequivocally that vaccination is need of the hour – nay, an absolute necessity – in order to overcome this global pandemic which is engulfing our world.”

It directed shops and business establishments to display the vaccination status of its employees prominently at a conspicuous place.

Similarly, in the case of local taxis, auto-rickshaws, cabs and buses, the court asked the owner to put up a sign with the vaccination status of drivers, conductors or helpers.

The bench further said that the dimension of the “vaccinated” or “not vaccinated” signboard, and the place where it could be affixed will be decided by the official concerned.

The suo motu PIL was filed after authorities in several areas asked shopkeepers, vendors, taxi drivers and others to get themselves vaccinated before resuming business.

If any service provider flouts the above directions, the state authorities shall immediately “direct its closure or stoppage of plying”, the division bench said in its order.

On vaccine hesitancy, the court underscored that the Meghalaya government should be able to address the issue and inoculate all eligible persons within time frame.

“This Court shall monitor this issue closely so that the state government is able to overcome the vaccine hesitation problem at the earliest and all eligible persons in the state of Meghalaya are vaccinated well within the timeframe as may be specified by the state.”

(With PTI inputs)