HE Meghalaya High Court has said there has been no legal mandate with regard to coercive or mandatory vaccination that can take away the livelihood of a citizen on that ground.
The court made these observations after it was brought to its notice that the Meghalaya Government through various orders of the Deputy Commissioners, had made it mandatory for shopkeepers, vendors, local taxi drivers and others to get themselves vaccinated before they can resume their businesses.
A division bench of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew said a notification/order of the State could not put an embargo or fetter on the fundamental right to life of an individual by stripping them of their right to livelihood, except according to the procedure established by law.
The Advocate General informed the court that orders in the districts had to be seen as a “persuasive advisory” and not as coercion with regards to the issue of vaccination.
The Principal Secretary to the Meghalaya Government informed the court that the existing orders on vaccine compliance would be modified and the requirement of a vaccination would be directory and not mandatory
The court accepted the same and issued a slew of directions so that the public is provided with an option of making an informed choice:-
- All shops/establishments/local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses should display prominently at a conspicuous place, a sign, “VACCINATED”, in the event all employees and staff of the concerned shop/establishment are vaccinated. Similarly, in the case of local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses where the concerned driver or conductor or helper(s) are vaccinated.
- All shops/establishments/local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses should display prominently at a conspicuous place, a sign, “NOT VACCINATED”, in the event all the employees and staff of the concerned shop/establishment are not vaccinated. Similarly, in the case of local taxis/auto-rickshaws/maxi cabs and buses where the concerned driver or conductor or helper(s) are not vaccinated.
“The actual dimension of the signs, “VACCINATED” or “NOT VACCINATED” and the conspicuous place where such sign is required to be affixed/displayed shall be decided by the concerned authority of the State”, the court said.
It added if any shop, establishment, local taxi, autorickshaw, maxi cab or bus service flouts the above directions, the concerned state authority must immediately direct its closure or stop its plying.
The court said if there is any attempt made by any person or organisation to spread misinformation regarding the efficacy of vaccination among the people of the state, the concerned authority will immediately proceed against such person or organisation in accordance with the law. The state concerned authority will also bring such instances to the notice of the court.