Citations: Registrar General, High Court of Meghalaya Vs State of Meghalaya, PIL No. 06/2021

Date of Judgement: 23/06/2021

Equivalent citations:  PIL No. 06/2021

Case No: PIL No.6/202

Case Type: Public Interest Litigation

Petitioner/Appellant: Registrar General, High Court of Meghalaya

Defendant/Respondent: State of Meghalaya

Bench: Hon’ble Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder, Hon’ble Justice H.S. Thangkhiew

Court: High Court of Meghalaya

Statutes Referred:

  • The Constitution of India; Article 19(1)(g), 19(6), 21, 38, 39(A), 47

Cases referred:

  •  Olga Tellis & Ors Vs Bombay Municipal Corporation & Ors AIR 1986 SC 180 = (1985) 3 SCC 545 
  • X Vs Netherlands of 1978 (the European Commission and Court of Human Rights
  • X Vs Austria of 1979 (the European Commission and Court of Human)
  • Schloendroff Vs Society of New York
  • Airedale NHS Trust Vs Bland


  • Deputy Commissioners in the state of Meghalaya via plethora of orders made it compulsory for vendors, shopkeepers, local taxi drivers and others to compulsorily vaccinate themselves before resuming their business activities.


  • Whether vaccination can at all be made mandatory?
  • Whether such mandatory action can adversely affect the right of a citizen to earn his/her livelihood, is an issue which requires consideration?

Contention of the Respondent:

  • Attention was drawn to specific recommendations given by the Principal Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, Health and Family Welfare Department, to all Deputy Commissioners of Meghalaya districts yesterday, i.e., 22nd June, 2021, on the actions necessary by the districts to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy
  • The learned Counsel stated that the Principal Secretary has explicitly indicated that current orders on vaccine compliance may be amended in light of the new policy directives as outlined in the guidelines of 22nd June, 2021, and that vaccination requirements should be advisory rather than mandatory.


The Meghalaya High Court held that forced or forceful vaccination violates the basic Right to Livelihood.

When vaccination is coerced or made necessary by coercive tactics, the very underlying aim of the benefit connected with immunisation is tainted. It violates Fundamental Rights in general, especially the right to a means of Livelihood that permits a person to survive and cited several previous decisions to emphasise that coerced vaccination is illegal.

The Bench’s ruling also raised concerns about bodily autonomy. Following the court’s decision, the state principal secretary announced that the present vaccination compliance guidelines will be modified.

The Court also provided with an order to be followed:

  • All shops/establishments/local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses shall prominently display the word “VACCINATED” in a conspicuous location if all employees and personnel of the relevant shop/establishment are vaccinated. Similarly, local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses where the driver, conductor, or helper(s) are vaccinated.
  • In the case where all of the employees and personnel of the concerned shop/establishment are not vaccinated, all shops/establishments/local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses shall clearly display the words “NOT VACCINATED” in a visible location. Similarly, in the case of local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses in which the driver, conductor, or helper(s) is/are not vaccinated.

Ratio Decidendi:

  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides for Right to Life which encompasses Right to Health and thus includes Right to Vaccination but mandatory vaccination policy that too in lieu of restraining the Right of Livelihood guaranteed to citizens under Article 19(1)(g) stands in clear violation of the Fundamental Right.
  • Article 19(6) defines reasonable restrictions for the ‘interest of general public’ but this policy hampers the right to personal liberty and the right to make choice freely. Though the State is trying to ensure rights for larger welfare of people by compromising the rights of individual. The court thinks that the procedure adopted is excessive and arbitrary in nature.
  • State Government gets its authority to make laws under Entry 6, List II of Seventh Schedule but the legislations made are to be in consonance with Fundamental Rights.
  • The government website mentions that the Vaccination for Covid is Voluntary, thus such a notification/order by the State Government stands unreasonable and arbitrary in nature.
  • It is one thing to compel the delivery of a vaccination without jeopardising one’s right to life and liberty based on informed choice and informed consent. However, if a mandatory vaccination effort is coercive by definition and spirit, it takes on a distinct magnitude and character.
  • A coherent and purposeful interpretation of the requirements of law and the principles of fairness, good conscience, and justice indicates that forced or coercive vaccination has no legal power, making such acts ultra vires ab initio.

Obiter Dicta:

  • It must be declared explicitly and absolutely that vaccination is urgently required and counts as an essential need for us to combat the worldwide epidemic that is sweeping our globe.
  • This Court will closely watch this matter to ensure that the State Government overcomes the vaccination hesitancy problem as soon as possible and that all eligible individuals in the State of Meghalaya get vaccinated within the time frame provided by the State.
  • If any person/organization attempts to propagate disinformation about the efficacy of vaccination among the people of this State, the State’s responsible authorities shall promptly step in and act against such person/organization in line with the law. The State’s responsible authority shall also bring such occurrences to the attention of this Court.


The Meghalaya High Court issued a slew of orders to the State Government requiring the immunisation of all companies, enterprises, local taxis, and other public locations in order to ensure that people have an “informed choice” when it comes to vaccination. Compelled or forced vaccines are unlawful, according to the Meghalaya High Court, and must be declared extra vires from the outset.

Drafted by: Sachika Vij, Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University

Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider

Published On: October 18, 2021 at 14:34 IST

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