Mizoram: Restrictions on unvaccinated termed arbitrary by Gauhati high court
The Gauhati high court held the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Mizoram government on the unvaccinated working individuals as arbitrary and not in consonance with the provisions of Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.
A division bench of justices of the Aizwal bench of the high court comprising of Michael Zothankhuma and Nelson Sailo passed the order on Friday while acting on a petition against standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Mizoram government last week restricting the movement of unvaccinated persons.
"Allowances available and given to vaccinated persons in the above clauses shall also be made equally applicable to unvaccinated persons," the bench said while directing the state government to issue a corrigendum of the SOPs declared on June 29, at the earliest.
The Mizoram government's SOP issued on June 29 by Mizoram chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo had included a provision that said that all people in the state of Mizoram are to be vaccinated or else they would not be allowed to leave their houses to run errands, procure essential goods, earn their livelihood by working in shops, stores, driving public, commercial transport vehicles, etc.
"Though the state can make a law imposing reasonable restrictions in the exercise of any of the rights under Article 19, so long as the said restriction is a reasonable restriction… the above-mentioned clauses do not appear to be reasonable," the HC bench added.
The next date of hearing in the case is on July 14.
In his submission before the court, the additional advocate general of Mizoram, C Zoramchhana, stated that 519,452 individuals (67% of the eligible population) have been administered the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the state against the target of 775,106 people.
"There is nothing to show that vaccinated persons (first dose) cannot be infected with coronavirus, or they cannot be spreaders. As the vaccinated and unvaccinated persons would have to follow the Covid proper behaviour protocols as per the SOP, there is no justification for discrimination," the order read.
The order also stated that the unvaccinated citizens of the state cannot be faulted due to the state's failure in not completing the vaccination of the targeted population.
(Edited by Aparmita Das)
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