Kochi: If someone loses their livelihood due to the vaccine administered by the State, is the government not duty bound to redress his grievance? the Kerala High Court asked the Centre on Tuesday.
The poser came during the hearing of a man's plea for a third jab of an internationally recognised vaccine so that he can go back to Saudi Arabia, where he was working as a welder prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. He has moved the high court for a third jab of an internationally recognised vaccine as the two doses of COVAXIN he received is not recognised or approved in the Gulf nation and therefore, he is unable to travel there.
Justice P V Kunhikrishnan on Tuesday said that the court was not blaming the Centre, but when a citizen stands to lose his employment or his movement is restricted due to the vaccine administered to him by the State, then "does the government not have a duty to redress his grievance"?
The court directed the Assistant Solicitor General (Asst SG) Manu S, appearing for the Centre, to take instructions on why Saudi Arabia was not recognising COVAXIN when the vaccine has been approved for international emergency use by WHO. The Asst SG said that the vaccines were administered to save lives which was the focus during the pandemic and therefore, the Centre could not wait for international acceptance of the same.
He also said that the government has its limitations with regard to imposing something on a foreign nation. The court, however, said that restriction of movement or loss of employment of a citizen due to a vaccine administered by the State was 'infringement of his Fundamental Rights".
It asked the Asst SG to come with instructions on the Saudi Arabia issue by November 29, the next date of hearing. On November 2, the high court had observed that the Centre's vaccination scheme has created two classes of citizens in India - those who got COVAXIN, whose movements are restricted, and those who received COVISHIELD and can go anywhere. The Centre had in August said that clinical trials were underway to ascertain efficacy of administering a third dose of COVID vaccine and it will take several months to complete.
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