The Meghalaya High Court has asked all shops, business houses and commercial vehicles in the state to put on display the COVID-19 vaccination status of their employees at a “conspicuous” place to allow people make a conscious decision before using their services. The court, which filed a suo moto PIL in the interest of common people, also warned of stern action against anyone involved in spreading misinformation on the vaccination drive.
A division bench of the high court, headed by Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder, said in its order on Wednesday, “At the outset, it must be stated clearly and unequivocally that vaccination is need of the hour – nay, an absolute necessity – in order to overcome this global pandemic which is engulfing our world.” It directed shops and business establishments to display “vaccinated” prominently at a conspicuous place only if the employees have taken the jab. Similarly, in the case of local taxis, auto-rickshaws, cabs and buses, the court asked the owner to put up a sign with the vaccination status of drivers, conductors or helpers.
The bench, which has Justice HS Thangkhiew as its other member, further said that the dimension of the “vaccinated” or “not vaccinated” signboard, and the place where it could be affixed will be decided by the official concerned. The suo moto PIL was filed after authorities in several areas asked shopkeepers, vendors, taxi drivers and others to get themselves vaccinated before resuming business.
If any service provider flouts the above directions, the state authorities shall immediately “direct its closure or stoppage of plying”, the division bench said in its order. On vaccine hesitancy, the court underscored that the Meghalaya government should be able to address the issue and inoculate all eligible persons within time frame.
“This Court shall monitor this issue closely so that the state government is able to overcome the vaccine hesitation problem at the earliest and all eligible persons in the state of Meghalaya are vaccinated well within the timeframe as may be specified by the state.”