The Maharashtra government on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that it has restricted entry of non-vaccinated citizens in suburban local trains only for the betterment of the public at large. The state further said that it has enough powers to impose such "reasonable restrictions."
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the decision of the state government restraining non-vaccinated citizens from travelling in local trains.
Senior counsel Anil Anturkar arguing on behalf of the state accepted that the decision in question has indeed encroached upon the fundamental right to free movement of citizens.
"Only Article 19(1)D (free movement) is encroached certainly but we have powers under the Constitution of India to impose reasonable restrictions," Anturkar said, adding, "These restrictions are for the betterment of the general public thus these are reasonable restrictions."
Anturkar further highlighted the issues faced by citizens during the second wave of Covid. "We suffered a lot due to dearth of medical oxygen. We don't want a similar situation again. Therefore, we want to be very cautious this time and take all possible precautions to minimize spread of cases," the senior counsel said.
"While vaccination may not guarantee full immunity, it is a step to avoid hospitalization and death and thus the restrictions on train travel have been imposed to avoid extreme eventualities," he added.
On the argument by advocate Nilesh Ojha that the state is powerless to impose such a restriction, Anturkar pointed out that the Disaster Management Act confers powers on the state to take measures for welfare of citizens to contain a disease.
The senior advocate would continue arguing on Friday.