Bombay HC: Prohibiting those above 65 on film sets is discriminatory

By Rupali Gupta-

The Bombay HC today rejects the guidelines issued by Maharashtra government which restrain the actors above 65 year old from remaining on film sets as discriminatory.

The petition filed by 70 year old Pramod Pandey, who challenging guidelines by Maharashtra goverment on 30 May and 23 june. The bench hearing this petition comprising of Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla.

On the last hearing the bench asked the state government to file an affidavit explaining the “data, statistics or reports” for issuing the Prohibitory orders.

Pandey argued that he was physically fit, but the state was restraining him from working based on his age.

The advocate appearing for the state government, however, submitted that the guidelines issued by the state government was not discriminatory since there were similar guidelines issued by the Central and state governments which restrained elderly people from stepping out except in case of exceptional circumstances.

The bench observed: “In our view, the impugned condition is not based on any intelligible differentia between the two identical classes of persons above the age of 65 years as set out above. Whilst there may be a nexus with the object sought to be achieved, i.e. to protect vulnerable people from the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no intelligible differentia between persons who are 65 years of age or above in the cast/crew of films and TV shootings on the one hand and persons who are 65 years of age or above in other sectors and services, permitted under prevailing lockdown orders.”

The bench further observed: “There is discrimination in the disparate treatment of persons who are 65 years of age or above in the film or television industry and in the other permitted sectors and permitted activities. The same is not based on any intelligible differentia and no explanation to this effect is to be found in the Reply of the State Government. The Impugned Condition therefore cannot be sustained in view of the well settled principles enunciated under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”

The bench however clarified that the advisory applicable to persons above 65 years of age would apply to persons associated with the film industry.