Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Ban On Local Train Travel For Unvaccinated Is In Public Interest, Maha Govt Tells HC

The prohibition on travel by local trains in Mumbai by those who are not fully vaccinated against coronavirus is legal and "reasonable", the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday.

Ban On Local Train Travel For Unvaccinated Is In Public Interest, Maha Govt Tells HC
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The prohibition on travel by local trains in Mumbai by those who are not fully vaccinated against coronavirus is legal and "reasonable", the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday. Senior advocate Anil Anturkar, the government's lawyer,  said though such a restriction encroaches on the fundamental right to move freely under Article 19 (1)(d) of the Constitution, it is "reasonable" in view of the pandemic.

"This is a reasonable restriction imposed on the citizen's fundamental right and such prohibition has been imposed in the larger public interest, for their own benefit," he said. He was arguing before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik during the final hearing on Public Interest Litigations challenging the ban on travel by local trains by those who have not taken both the doses of vaccine.

The notification requiring a vaccination certificate for local train travel was issued in August 2021. Petitioners' counsels Neelesh Ojha and Tanveer Nizam had argued that the notification was illegal, arbitrary, and violated the right to equality and free movement.

Advocate Anturkar said this was a precautionary step, taken in the light of the earlier experience. "Maharashtra suffered terribly during the first wave (of the pandemic) due to dearth of medical oxygen. Therefore, we want to be very cautious this time and take all possible precautions to minimize the spread of cases," he said.

While vaccination may not guarantee full immunity, it is "a step to avoid hospitalization and death" and the restrictions on train travel have been imposed "to avoid extreme eventualities," the government counsel added. The petitioners had also contended that the Union government's "national plan" to tackle the pandemic precluded any kind of discrimination, including that between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

Anturkar denied that the restriction on train travel amounted to discrimination. "Is there a national plan under the Disaster Management Act to tackle Covid, and does it prohibit state governments from discriminating between the vaccinated and unvaccinated when it comes to access to public utilities?" he further asked.

The HC asked the Union government's lawyer to clarify the position on this point and adjourned the hearing to Friday.

With inputs from PTI

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