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Legal

Updated on: Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 11:31 PM IST

FPJ Legal: Govt justifies prohibition on unvaccinated, says 'mixing of unvaccinated with other public may invite explosive transmission of Covid'

Photo: BL Soni

Photo: BL Soni

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The Maharashtra government has told the Bombay High Court that allowing unvaccinated people to mix with other people in public transport will not only endanger lives of others but will also invite “explosive transmission” of the coronavirus.

An affidavit filed by chief secretary Debasish Chakrabarty reads: “Allowing unvaccinated persons to mix with other people, by using public transport, will only endanger lives of others, and will invite explosive transmission of the coronavirus and its subsequent variants… The government of Maharashtra, as parens patriae (guardian of the state) cannot afford to take that risk.”

Last week, High Court had directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit explaining the rationale behind such prohibition, while hearing two PILs – one filed by Firoze Mithiborwala, and the other by Yohan Tengra – claiming that the state's circular prohibiting unvaccinated persons from travelling in the local trains was without logic and in breach of citizens' right to equality.

The chief secretary’s affidavit states that the decision was neither discriminatory, nor did it breach the citizen's fundamental rights. Instead, the unvaccinated were prohibited from the use of public transport to ensure that they did not mingle with other citizens and add to the spread of the Covid19 virus.

During the hearing on Monday, the government said that unvaccinated persons were prohibited from not just using local trains, but all other modes of public transport in the state as well.

It further said that the decision was taken after consultation with experts and members of the state's special task force on Covid.

Cautioning against the possibility of a third wave, the government said that it was not willing to take any risk on the issue of public health.

“Unfortunately, the problem is not over yet. There is a likelihood of a third wave and also the likelihood of the spread of the new variant, Omicron… The government of Maharashtra therefore, cannot afford to take any risk and would like to err on the safer side, so far it concerns the issue of public health,” reads the 37-page affidavit.

The affidavit also details the devastating second wave of COVID that hit Maharashtra earlier this year, and how the state authorities struggled to cope with it. The government has said that it does not want a replay of such a dire situation.

Besides, there has been adequate research to prove that those who had taken both doses of the vaccine were less likely to contract severe Covid or require prolonged hospitalisation, states the affidavit.

Terming the curbs on the unvaccinated as reasonable, the government has urged the court to dismiss the PILs. Besides, the government informed the court that the petitioners themselves were fully vaccinated.

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Published on: Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 11:32 PM IST
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