KOCHI: An employee of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), who was unwilling to accept the COVID-19 vaccine, approached the Kerala High Court on Thursday seeking to set aside the government order mandating vaccination certificate or RT PCR negative results for people to visit shops and other establishments in the state. Justice PB Suresh Kumar will consider the case on Friday.
Advocate Ajit Joy, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that his client has already taken three RT PCR tests to attend duty and it's very difficult to take the test continuously as it costs more than Rs 500 per test. "Taking a COVID-19 vaccination is purely voluntary. There are several people who have decided not to get vaccinated. The state ought to do more to educate the public about the vaccine and dispel doubts as to its efficacy before attempting stringent prohibition as envisaged in the order," argued the petitioner.
He submitted that people who have taken the vaccine are still getting infected and even dying. Hence, the petitioner developed doubts about the efficacy of the vaccine. The petitioner learnt that prominent public persons including Chief Minister and the former CM Oommen Chandy were both infected after accepting the first dose of the vaccine. Industries Minister P Rajeev and his wife were infected after taking both doses.
According to him, he has been going about his daily life since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, observing all instructions issued by the government. He has diligently worn the mask, observed social distancing, observed lockdown restrictions and has taken adequate precautions including observing the ‘stay at home’ norm. The petitioner has not been infected yet by the COVID-19 virus. The decision taken on August 4 to restrict the movement of those who have not been vaccinated has seriously affected him. The order was in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, he said.
The state government submitted that 68 per cent of people have been administered the first dose of vaccine. This type of petition cannot be entertained when the TPR is nearly 20 per cent in the state and the daily number of COVID-19 cases is crossing 30,000, it said.
The counsel for KTDC submitted that it has never prevented the petitioner from working at the office. The court then said, "You are violating the government order. How did you permit him to work without RT PCR negative certificate?"