A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court comprising of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly on Wednesday observed that the Government should have made Covid-19 vaccination compulsory, like it was done in the case of polio vaccination etc.
The Bench made the observation while considering a PIL filed challenging the Kerala government's decision to permit only those students and teachers who have taken two doses of Covid-19 vaccine to attend schools and colleges in the state.
The Kerala government had issued a government order on 2nd October permitting regular classes in schools and colleges for those who have taken two doses of the vaccine.
The Petitioner in the PIL claims that his wife is a professor and his son a student in the same Engineering college. The Petitioner contends that the insistence of the state for vaccination is violative of the right to privacy of individuals.
The Petitioner also contends that the efficacy of the vaccine has not been scientifically proven and that the compulsory requirement of vaccination violates the fundamental right under Article 19(g) of teachers and the fundamental right to education under Article 21A of the students. The Petitioner highlights that the Covid-19 vaccination drive of the Central Government is only voluntary.
When the matter was listed on Wednesday before the bench of the Chief Justice, the Bench was not inclined to accept the arguments of the Petitioner.
The Chief Justice even made an oral observation that had he been in the executive, the employees who refuse to take the vaccination would have been sacked.
The same Bench of the Chief Justice had by a Judgment of 17th September in the matter of Halvi K.S. v. Union of India rejected arguments against the state compelling citizens to take Covid-19 vaccination and wear masks. The Court had held that, "However, we are of the considered opinion that the restrictions are imposed by the State Government and the authority under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, after conducting in-depth study from time-to-time, with the aid and assistance of experts, in the field, and the orders/guidelines are issued, taking into account the specific requirements of the prevailing situation, so as to ensure safety and welfare of the public at large".
The Bench had held that the state has a duty to "ensure that the citizens are guided properly, so as to be alert them timely with respect to the emergent situation prevailing in the nation as a whole and the State specific, and to regulate and restrict their movements in the larger interest of the public, may be even diluting the individual rights and interests with the fundamental object of public safety in the extraordinary circumstances prevailing in the community".
The Bench had also held that, "When action is taken by the State Government, in the larger interest of the citizens, it can never be said that the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India are violated".
The PIL has been adjourned for hearing on the 9th of November.