Published: 25th October 2021
Eligible but not vaccinated? Kerala HC agrees with govt and says you can't return to college
All the colleges are reopening in the state today after almost a 20-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The Kerala High Court has upheld the state government's order permitting only the students, teachers and other staff members who have taken two doses of COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the vaccine two weeks in advance and those who have recovered from COVID-19 infection within the previous 90 days, to enter colleges and their hostels. Justice PB Suresh Kumar issued the order on the petitions filed by students of various colleges in the state.
The petitioners had argued that they had taken an informed decision not to take the vaccine fearing adverse side effects. "The vaccine is not compulsory and the Right to Life guaranteed to them under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, especially the Right to Privacy also gives them the freedom to abstain from taking the vaccine. Hence, the order insisting on vaccination is illegal and unconstitutional," the petitioners had submitted.
But the Court had a sterner view. "The right of individuals does not in any manner affect the authority of the executive to take measures to restore normalcy to life in times of pandemic, and merely for the reason that the same gives certain advantages to the vaccinated, such measures cannot be challenged as discriminatory by the unvaccinated," observed the court.
Colleges across the state finally reopened today, after almost a 20-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher Education Minister R Bindu had appealed to the college management to ensure the safety of students as at least some places are still under the threat of heavy rain apart from the COVID situation. “Taking note of the situation, the college authorities should ensure that all directions issued by the state government are adhered to. Students who are not eligible for vaccination yet and those who wait for the second dose should be allowed to enter classrooms,” she said. It should be ensured that all the above-18 family members of students have taken at least one dose of vaccine. She also advised differently-abled people and those who have comorbidities to abstain from classes for at least two weeks.
The state of Kerala was one of the worst-hit during the deadly second wave this year, and only in the last few weeks has the caseload reduced in the state. The rate of vaccination currently stands at 71% of the total population in the state. Overall, COVID-19 has claimed 28,592 lives in the state.
Edited by Juveria Tabassum
With inputs from ENS