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Updated on: Wednesday, December 15, 2021, 11:41 PM IST

FPJ Legal: Bombay HC orders Maharashtra govt to spell out rationale for disallowing non-vaccinated citizens from traveling in local trains

(ANI Photo)

(ANI Photo)

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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday ordered the Maharashtra government to spell out the rationale behind the circular restraining citizens, who haven't received any vaccination, to travel in suburban local trains. The court has asked the state to file it's explanation by Tuesday.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik was hearing a bunch of petitions that took exception to the state disaster management authority's circular disallowing those citizens, who aren't vaccinated at all, from using the local trains.

Advocate Nilesh Ojha, appearing for one of the petitioners, highlighted in this context that around 50% of citizens haven't taken even a single dose of COVID vaccine.

"These people have been told they will not be given ration and allowed to travel," Ojha submitted, adding, "The authorities say this is only to ensure that people get vaccinated. But some people think it is better to take medicines, instead of vaccination."

Ojha further told the judges that these people are not able to go to work, as they are unable to travel in the local trains.

At this, the bench said, "Are you telling us that because of this circular people are not being able to go to work? They are being prevented?"

"Yes," Ojha responded.

Senior counsel Anil Anturkar submitted on behalf of the state, "To say that you are being prohibited is not correct, the circular only puts a stop to season tickets in local trains. If I want to use my car or walk, then there are no restrictions."

Anturkar further submitted that Article 19 (5) of the Constitution provides for reasonable restrictions and assured the bench that the state would justify how the circular in question would amount to reasonable restriction.

"As far as Article 21 is concerned, if there is procedure established by law, then there can be restrictions," Anturkar submitted, to which the bench responded,

"But the procedure has to be reasonable."

Anturkar further submitted that the state isn't taking this as an adversarial litigation. "We are in a dark room. We don’t know when the solution will come. But till then prevention is better than cure," the senior counsel submitted.

"There cannot be a submission that I will not take vaccination and then infect people in local trains," Anturkar added, further pointing out that the circular is mostly intended for citizens of Mumbai and Pune, as these cities have the maximum commuters.

Further, Anturkar told the bench that the state authority overseeing the Covid19 issues will have to be made a responded to the present proceedings, as it is an independent body.

Having heard the submissions, CJ Datta, in his orders, said, "The broader issue is of curtailing fundamental rights of citizens who cannot avail the suburban local services and the rationale has to be explained by the state government and the state disaster management authority."

"We require the chief secretary of the state to file an affidavit by Tuesday, setting forth the rationale behind this division between vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons," the chief justice said while adjourning the matter.

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Published on: Wednesday, December 15, 2021, 11:41 PM IST
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