Justifying its stance on not allowing unvaccinated commuters to travel by Mumbai local trains, the Maharashtra government on Thursday, January 20, told the Bombay High Court (HC) that the decision is legal and reasonable.
Senior advocate Anil Anturkar, the government’s lawyer, said that decision is lawful, reasonable and taken in the larger public interest, for their own benefit.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the decision of the state government restraining non-vaccinated citizens from travelling in local trains.
Arguing on behalf of the state, Anturkar accepted that the decision in question has indeed encroached upon the fundamental right to free movement of citizens. However, the government has powers under the Constitution of India to impose reasonable restrictions.
He also pointed out that the Disaster Management Act confers powers on the state to take measures for welfare of citizens to contain a disease.
Moreover, Anturkar denied that the restriction on train travel amounted to discrimination. The Maharashtra government had released notification requiring vaccination certificate for local train travel in August 2021.
Besides, pointing out about the suffering during the second wave of COVID-19, senior counsel stated that Maharashtra suffered terribly during the first wave (of the pandemic) due to dearth of medical oxygen. Therefore, the state government want to be very cautious this time and take all possible precautions to minimize spread of cases. While vaccination may not guarantee full immunity, it is a step to avoid hospitalization and death and the restrictions on train travel have been imposed to avoid extreme eventualities.
The submissions before the HC will continue on Friday, January 21.