Meghalaya Aug 10(ILNS): The Meghalaya High Court on August 08, directed the state government to take serious note of the fact that some persons were spreading rumors on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines using various social media platforms.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew while hearing a Suo Motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on orders issued by the State Government making vaccination mandatory for shopkeepers, vendors, local taxi drivers, etc. before they can resume their businesses.
Pursuant to the status report filed on behalf of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Meghalaya on Monday, the High Court found that it does not reveal any step taken by Meghalaya Police in order to specifically identify and book those persons who are responsible for spreading false rumors using various social media platforms with regard to the efficacy of the vaccines, in order to create an element of fear psychosis in the society, which is one of the primary reasons for vaccine hesitancy in the State of Meghalaya.
The Court appreciated the steps taken by the Department of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of Meghalaya, it simply cannot allow the rumor-mongers to go scot-free. They can be easily apprehended by the Meghalaya Police (provided it has the will to do so), since all of them are invariably using various social media platforms, thereby leaving an electronic trail, the Court held.
“We would request the Advocate General to take serious note of this matter and apprise the Court specifically on the next date the steps taken by the Meghalaya Police in this regard”, the court said.
The Court fixed the matter for 17th August 2021, for further consideration.
On July 22, the High Court directed the State Government to deal with the issue of vaccine hesitancy in the State in an effective manner, on a priority basis.
Earlier on June 23, the Court had held that forced vaccination violates fundamental rights as mandated under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. It had then issued a slew of directions for encouraging vaccination among citizens and removing any apprehensions in this regard from their minds. The Court had also decided to monitor the issue closely so that the State Government is able to overcome the vaccine hesitation problem at the earliest.
The Court further directed the Member Secretary of the Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority, Shillong, to bring the said order to the notice of all the Secretaries of the District State Legal Services Authorities in the State of Meghalaya who shall inquire and find out as to whether the concerned departments are actually taking steps to ensure that the Government Welfare Schemes for the marginalized section of the society are being properly and effectively implemented in a time-bound manner in accordance with the guidelines of the respective Government Welfare Schemes./ILNS/SS/SNG