Terming it "discriminatory" the Bombay High Court on Friday sought to know from the Maharashtra government to spell the basis on which it has issued guidelines disallowing artistes above the age of 65 years to venture out and earn their livelihood, amid the lockdown. The HC has accordingly ordered the state to file its affidavit explaining how it imposed such restrictions only on artistes and not other employees of senior citizens.
A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla said that if the state has not imposed a prohibition on senior citizens to open their shops and sit the whole day then how could it prohibit artistes above 65 years from going to studios and attend shoots.
The judges were dealing with a plea filed by a small-time actor, a senior citizen, who challenged the guidelines of the state government, issued in May by which certain restrictions artistes above 65 years age to enter studios. The plea filed through advocate Ashok Saraogi argued that such small time artistes above 65 years, solely rely on the roles provided to them in the industry. It pointed that at least physically fit senior citizens must be allowed to venture out and earn their livelihood to lead a dignified life.
On Friday, when the matter came up for hearing, state's counsel Poornima Kantharia told the judges that the guidelines were not discriminatory as all senior citizens had been prohibited from stepping out, except for going out for essentials. The judges, however, sought to know from Kantharia if each and every senior citizen is prevented from going to work, irrespective of their sector or field of profession. At this, Kantharia answered in negative. "If I am a 70-year-old man who owns a shop, will you stop me from opening my shop and sitting there the whole day?" Justice Kathawalla asked.
Kantharia answered in the negative, to which Justice Kathawalla replied, "Then on what basis are you stopping senior artistes? Let us know, in which other field have you imposed such restriction." "This seems to be discrimination," Justice Kathawalla remarked.
The bench while posting the matter for further hearing in next week, ordered Kantharia to file the state's say in this matter.