The observation by Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan came during the hearing of a man’s plea for a third jab of an internationally recognised vaccine so that he can go abroad for work.
The man, who was working as a welder in Saudi Arabia, moved the court for a third jab as the two doses of COVAXIN he has received is not recognised or approved in the Gulf nation and therefore, he stands to lose his job there as he cannot go there without being vaccinated by an internationally recognised vaccine.
“Due to the State-sponsored vaccination scheme, there are two types of citizens in the country – those who received COVAXIN and those who got COVISHIELD. The former’s movement is restricted, while the latter can go anywhere,” the court said.
It said the creation of two classes of citizens has resulted in “infringement of the fundamental right of movement of the petitioner”.
“His movement is restricted. A citizen is suffering due to a State-sponsored vaccination scheme. It is a clear case of infringement of the fundamental rights of the petitioner,” the court observed.
The judge said he will not order as to whether a third jab be administered to the petitioner, but will direct the Centre to redress his grievance within one month.
The court listed the matter on November 5 to await the Centre’s response on the view expressed by the judge.
During the hearing, the Centre told the court that a similar matter was pending before the Supreme Court which said it will wait for the World Health Organisation (WHO) decision on the issue.
The court said if the Centre wants to take more time to make a decision, a direction can be issued to pay the petitioner the amount he was receiving as salary when working abroad.
“The court cannot sit like a mere spectator,” the judge said.
The Centre had in August said that clinical trials were underway to ascertain efficacy of administering a third dose of COVID vaccine and it will take several months to complete.