Coronavirus | Gauhati High Court stays Arunachal Pradesh order on temporary entry permits

The State government had on June 30 set the condition for issuing temporary permits for developmental works in public and private sectors

July 21, 2021 01:35 pm | Updated 11:30 pm IST - GUWAHATI:

Beneficiaries wait in a queue to receive COVID-19 vaccine dose, in Lungla on July 20, 2021.

Beneficiaries wait in a queue to receive COVID-19 vaccine dose, in Lungla on July 20, 2021.

The Itanagar Bench of the Gauhati High Court has stayed the Arunachal Pradesh government’s June 30 notification prescribing temporary entry permits for “developmental works in public and private sectors” only to people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by Dibang Valley district resident Madan Milli on July 19, Justice Nani Tagia said the notification classifying people into the vaccinated and the unvaccinated for the purpose of issuance of temporary permit “violates Articles 14, 19 (1) (d) and 21 of the Constitution of India”.

Indians who intend to visit Arunachal Pradesh — as in three other north-eastern States — for business or tourism need to possess an Inner-Line Permit (ILP), a British era system.

“Tourist ILPs shall remain suspended during the period of this order [till August 1]. However, for developmental works in both public and private sectors, temporary permits may be issued, provided such persons are vaccinated for COVID-19,” Clause 11 of the government notification read.

The petitioner had cited an RTI information furnished by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, which states: “There is no provision of compensation for recipients of COVID-19 vaccination against any kind of side-effects or medical complications that may arise due to inoculation. The COVID-19 vaccination is also entirely voluntary for the beneficiaries.”

Representing the State, Additional Advocate General R.H. Nabam said the restrictions were placed due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in Arunachal Pradesh with the sole objective of checking the spread of the pandemic in the State.

Examining the plea for staying Clause 11 of the State government’s order, Justice Tagia noted: “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 COVID-19 virus and consequently a spreader of COVID-19 virus.”

The court further said: “Insofar as the spread of COVID-19 virus to others is concerned, the COVID-19 vaccinated and the unvaccinated person or persons are the same. Both can equally be a potential spreader if they are infected with COVID-19 virus in them.”

Observing that even a vaccinated but COVID-infected person can be a super-spreader, the court said restrictions based on a person’s vaccination status did not hold any water and that there was no justification for discrimination.

Staying the operation of the impugned Clause 11, the court issued a notice on the matter returnable on July 28.

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