The Maharashtra government has been directed by the Bombay High Court to produce all files and data on which it relied while imposing restrictions on the unvaccinated persons to travel in local trains.
The HC is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by an individual, Firoz Mithiborwala, challenging the state government's decision to permit only the fully vaccinated people to use the public transport.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik also sought to know on what basis, the government has said in its affidavit filed in reply to the petition, that an unvaccinated person is more at risk of being infected with Covid-19 and hence more prone to spread the virus than a vaccinated person.
“How can the state government say this? On what basis is this statement made? Vaccinated persons can also be affected by the virus,” Chief Justice Datta said. He further said: “Show us the files and data relied upon by the state executive committee before taking this decision (to not allow unvaccinated persons in local trains).”
Government counsel S U Kamdar replied that vaccinated persons get infected but faced milder symptoms. “Our data shows that 96 percent of those affected more were unvaccinated,” said Kamdar.
He further told the court that the state government was more vigilant as in all the three waves, Maharashtra witnessed high number of Covid-19 positive cases. He said he was willing to produce and submit to the court all the data and files.
While keeping the PIL for further hearing on Wednesday, the judges said they were only ascertaining if the law was followed while taking this decision.
Mithiborwala challenged the government circular dated March 1, 2022, listing the standard operating procedures and safety measures to be followed by citizens in view of the pandemic. The restriction on public transport, including local trains, for the unvaccinated has been continued in this circular. Terming the restrictions as arbitrary and unconstitutional, Mithiborwala alleged that it was an “indirect attempt” on the part of Maharashtra government to make vaccination compulsory.