Maharashtra government’s decision permitting only fully vaccinated persons on local trains is termed ‘illegal’ by High Court
The Bombay High Court ruled on Tuesday that the Maharashtra government’s 2021 rules allowing only persons properly vaccinated against Covid-19 to ride in local trains were “illegal” and violated residents’ basic rights.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik ruled that the three instructions signed by the government’s then-chief secretary Sitaram Kunte were a clear deviation from the Disaster Management Rules.
Anil Anturkar, the government’s attorney, notified the court on Tuesday that the three orders in question (issued on July 15, August 10, and August 11, 2021) had been retracted.
The bench then noted that the number of coronavirus positives in Mumbai on Monday was the lowest in 20 months.
According to the municipal civic administration, Mumbai reported 96 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, the lowest single-day increase since April 17, 2020.
The HC bench observed that Kunte’s directives violated state disaster management laws and were made in his individual role as chairperson of the state executive committee without consultation with the other members.
On Monday, the bench asked the administration whether it was prepared to retract the three circulars since they were not enacted in accordance with normal procedure.
The court was hearing a slew of public interest lawsuits challenging the city’s ban on unvaccinated people riding local trains, claiming that such a ban was illegal, arbitrary, and violated citizens’ fundamental right to move freely across the country, as guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (d) of the Constitution.
Niles Ojha, counsel for one of the petitioners in the case, previously argued that the state failed to apply its mind when developing the SOPs and discriminated between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, despite the fact that neither the Centre nor the Maharashtra government had made vaccination necessary.