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Legal

Updated on: Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 10:38 PM IST

FPJ Legal: People avoiding anti-Covid vaccine put themselves and others at high risk of infection, says Bombay High Court

Mumbai: A health worker collects swab sample of an outstation passenger for COVID-19 test, at Bandra Terminus railway station in Mumbai, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.  | (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

Mumbai: A health worker collects swab sample of an outstation passenger for COVID-19 test, at Bandra Terminus railway station in Mumbai, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. | (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

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People deliberately avoiding the anti COVID-19 vaccine are placing themselves at a higher risk of contracting and transmitting the virus, observed the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.

The remark was made by a division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and Abhay Ahuja while dismissing a petition filed by seven employees of the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) challenging a June 2021 circular making it compulsory for unvaccinated employees to produce negative RT-PCR test results every 10 days.

The judges said that while the petitioners’ decision not to get vaccinated is well respected, it does not mean that they are entitled to the same treatment that the MPT gives to vaccinated persons.

“We are convinced that persons taking a conscious decision not to vaccinate themselves are effectively deciding to place themselves at a greater risk of contracting and/or transmitting the disease than a vaccinated person,” said HC.

In its 20-page order, the HC has said that the accepted medical opinion by International and State Agencies and Governments across the world is that a Covid-19 vaccination not only gives significant protection against contracting the disease, but also significantly reduces the risk of its transmission.

“It is therefore logical and reasonable to regard unvaccinated persons as posing a significantly greater risk of infection and transmission of Covid-19 than vaccinated persons,” said HC.

While no vaccination is 100 per cent effective in preventing diseases but the risk of such infections occurring is greatly reduced in vaccinated persons and is significantly higher in unvaccinated persons, the judges further observed.

Agreeing with the MPT’s circular, the HC said: “...it is reasonable for a large organisation such as the MPT to require a higher degree of checking and monitoring of the Covid-19 status of unvaccinated persons.”

It further termed the requirement of periodically producing negative RT-PCR test reports as “a reasonable restriction on fundamental rights of the Petitioners to carry out their occupation or trade”.

The employees challenged the circular claiming that it discriminated between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees and therefore was violative of their fundamental rights. They further contended that vaccination is a voluntary act and that they cannot be compelled to vaccinate themselves.

MPT’s lawyer, Rajul Jain, argued that vaccination provides strong protection against infection and transmission of Covid-19. He said that MPT had provided free vaccinations to its employees and the vast majority of them have got vaccinated.

Further, Jain argued that since vaccination is voluntary, MPT was not compelling employees to get vaccinated and gave them option to produce negative RT-PCR report periodically.

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Published on: Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 10:39 PM IST
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