Manipur HC: Depriving Livelihood by linking Employment with getting Vaccination is Illegal

Aishwarya Rathore-

The Manipur High Court has ruled that denying people’s livelihoods by requiring them to get vaccinated is an illegal act by the state and such a measure would violate an individual’s right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated.

The Bench ruled, “Restraining people who are yet to get vaccinated from opening institutions, organizations, factories, shops, etc., or denying them their livelihood by linking their employment, be it NREGA job cardholders or workers in Government or private projects, to their getting vaccinated would be illegal on the part of the State.”

The Court was hearing Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the Government of Manipur’s Notification dated June 30, 2021. The State Government proposed a calibrated relaxation of curfew/containment zone orders in the future based on an assessment of the Covid infection scenario.

It stated that, in order to avoid jeopardising public health safety, the government considered it prudent to prioritise the opening of institutions, organisations, factories, shops, markets, private offices, and so on, where employees were Covid vaccinated.

The Court’s observed, “The notification was an attempt to make vaccination mandatory as it favored those who are vaccinated, not only in terms of prioritizing the opening up of their institutions, organizations, etc., but also by linking vaccination as a condition precedent for employment of NREGA job cardholders and workers in Government and private projects”.

It was observed that the Manipur Government was acting in accordance with the Central Government’s policy of promoting Covid vaccinations. The government’s goal is to instill immunity in the people, at least to the point of preventing dire consequences if infected.

Significantly, the Court said:

“It is for the State Government to dispel such fears by educating people as to the advantages of getting vaccinated and erase their apprehension of the adverse consequences of getting vaccinated. Without addressing this issue, the State cannot seek to impose conditions upon the citizens so as to compel them to get vaccinated, be it by holding out a threat or by putting them at a disadvantage for failing to get vaccinated.”

In related news, the Meghalaya High Court recently held, “Mandatory or forceful vaccination does not find any force in law and hence are to be declared as ultra vires ab initio.”

The division bench observed, “Article 21 encompasses within its fold, right to health, as a fundamental right. By that same analogy, right to health care, 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. It impinges on the fundamental right(s) as such, especially when it affects the right to means of livelihood which makes it possible for a person to live.”

Also Read: Kerala HC awakens State Govt regarding Crowd Control in Covid-19

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