Linking employment to Covid vaccination illegal, says Manipur High Court

THE Manipur High Court has held that the state government cannot impose conditions on citizens to compel them to get vaccinated, be it by holding out a threat or by putting them at a disadvantage for failing to get vaccinated.

“Restraining people who are yet to get vaccinated from opening institutions, organizations, factories, shops, etc., or denying them their livelihood by linking their employment, be it NREGA job card holders or workers in government or private projects, to their getting vaccinated would be lillegal on the part of the State, if not unconstitutional,” a division bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Kh Nobin Singh said.

The bench added that such a measure would also trample upon the freedom of the individual to get vaccinated or choose not to do so.

The high court was hearing a petition challenging a notification issued by the state government which proposed to prioritize the opening of institutions, organizations, factories, shops, markets, private offices, etc., where employees and workers were Covid vaccinated. The government further stated that this would also apply to NREGA job cardholders and workers of government/ private projects.

The court said, prima facie, this prescription seemed to make vaccination mandatory as it favoured those who were vaccinated, not only in terms of prioritizing the opening up of their institutions, organizations, etc., but also by linking vaccination as a condition precedent for the employment of NREGA job card holders and workers in government and private projects.

The state government contended that the notification was merely an expression of the government’s intention as to what it proposed to do once the curfew/containment zone orders were relaxed.

Taking note of the state’s submission, the court ordered the notification not to be given effect till the next date of hearing on July 28.

Click here to read the order