The Meghalaya High Court on Wednesday, 23 June, held that vaccinations administered by using coercive methods vitiates the fundamental purpose of welfare that is attached to it, according to Bar & Bench.
“Article 21 encompasses within its fold, right to health, as a fundamental right. By that same analogy, right to healthcare, which includes vaccination, is a fundamental right. However, vaccination by force or being made mandatory by adopting coercive methods, vitiates the very fundamental purpose of the welfare attached to it...,”Meghalaya HC judgement
The high court said that forcing shopkeepers, vendors, taxi drivers etc to get vaccinated as a condition to restart their business will violate Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
No Action by State Can Violate Right to Livelihood, HC Says
The judgement comes while the high court was dealing with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against orders passed by the state, directing shopkeepers, vendors, taxi drivers etc. to get vaccinated before running their business again, Bar and Bench reported.
Two questions were discussed in this regard -- whether vaccination can be made compulsory and whether doing so can have an adverse effect on the right of a citizen to earn their livelihood.
Considering the question of whether a state government can issue any notification or order which could have a direct effect on the fundamental rights of its citizens, the court said that there was a 'clear lack of legitimacy in prohibiting freedom of carrying on any occupation, trade or business amongst a certain category or class of citizens who are otherwise entitled to do so by making the notification/order ill-conceived, arbitrary and/or a colourable exercise of power.'
The Court further noted that the burden of sensitising citizens about vaccinations with its pros and cons so as to facilitate informed decision making lies with the State.
“The welfare nature of the State isn’t for coercive negative reinforcement by seizing their right to livelihood, proscribing them to earn from their occupation and/or profession without any justification in the garb of public interest, but lies in walking together with concerted efforts attempting to effectuate a social order as mandated under Article 38 by approaching the people directly by engaging them in one-to-one dialogues and dwelling on the efficiency and the positive aspects of administering the vaccine without compromising its duty under Article 47 nor abrogating its duty to secure adequate means of livelihood under Article 39(a).”Meghalaya High Court, quoted by Live Law
Court Gives State Govt Directions on Vaccination
The Court gave the following directions to the state government on vaccinations, as reported by Bar and Bench:
(i) All shops/establishments/local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses should display prominently at a conspicuous place, a sign, “VACCINATED”, in the event all employees and staff of the concerned shop/establishment are vaccinated. This also applies to taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses where the concerned driver or conductor or helper(s) are vaccinated.
(ii) All shops/establishments/local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses should display prominently at a conspicuous place, a sign, “NOT VACCINATED”, in the event all the employees and staff of the concerned shop/establishment are not vaccinated. As before, this should also be the case for local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses where the concerned driver or conductor or helper(s) are not vaccinated.
The matter will be considered again on 30 June, the report said.
(With inputs from Bar & Bench and Live Law.)