Gauhati HC stays Arunachal order on ban on work permits for unvaccinated persons

The court said that the notification discriminated between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.

The Gauhati High Court Monday stayed a notification by the Arunachal Pradesh government that said temporary permits to enter the state for work could be issued to only those who had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The court said that the notification discriminated between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons and violated Articles 14, 19 (1) (d) & 21 of the Constitution.

An order of the Arunachal Pradesh government issued on June 30 said that while Inner Line Permits (ILPs) needed to enter the state will remain suspended, temporary permits “for developmental works in both public and private sector” may be issued “provided such persons are vaccinated for Covid-19.”

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Madan Mili, a resident of Dibang Valley, a single judge bench of Justice Nani Tagia stated that such a classification between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons was not based on “intelligible differentia” nor did it have “a rational relation/nexus to the object sought to be achieved by such classification, namely, containment and further spread of Covid-19 pandemic.”

The petitioner argued that as per information gathered through RTI from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Covid-19 vaccination is “not mandatory but voluntary.”

The state government submitted that in view of the rising cases, the clause was a “reasonable restriction” issued with the sole objective of containing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court referred to an earlier judgment (Re Dinthar Incident Aizawl Vs. State of Mizoram & Ors. Aizawl) on July 2 which had pronounced the Mizoram government’s restrictions that prohibited unvaccinated people from leaving their houses as “unreasonable” and “arbitrary”.

“There is no evidence available either in the record or in the public domain that Covid-19 vaccinated persons cannot be infected with Covid-19 virus, or he/she cannot be a carrier of a Covid-19 virus and consequently, a spreader of Covid-19 virus. In so far as the spread of Covid- 19 Virus to others is concerned, the Covid-19 vaccinated and the unvaccinated person or persons are the same” the court said.

The Court will next hear the matter on July 28.

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