Maharashtra govt seeks two days to issue fresh guidelines on local train travel for unvaccinated


The Maharashtra government on Monday sought two days from the Bombay High Court to issue fresh guidelines on whether to allow those people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated against Covid-19 to board local trains, and enter malls and workplaces.
The Maharashtra government on February 22 had told the high court that it was ready to withdraw “illegal” circulars and standard operating procedures issued on July 15, August 10 and August 11 last year that permitted only fully-vaccinated people to board local trains and visit malls and workplaces.

The state government said the state executive committee (SEC), under the Disaster Management (DM) Act, will review all subsequent orders on February 25 which are still in force imposing restrictions on unvaccinated persons. The chief secretary is the ex officio chairperson of the SEC.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik has been hearing two public interest litigations (PILs) seeking that all people in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), irrespective of their vaccination status, be allowed to travel by local trains and visit malls and workplaces.

On Monday, the state government lawyer told the high court that the SEC meeting was held on February 25 and its minutes and a draft of new guidelines with the easing of restrictions is prepared. However, the committee’s decision is awaiting chief secretary Debashish Chakrabarty’s signature, the government said.
Chakrabarty, the lawyer said, has been busy with various meetings about the evacuation of Maharashtra students from war-affected Ukraine.

“The meetings have been held and all papers are ready. Only the chief secretary has to sign it. But marathon meetings are going on as many students of Maharashtra are stranded in Ukraine and the government is trying to bring them back. This document will be signed any minute. Please give us two days,” government pleader Priyabhushan P Kakade told the bench.

After the bench told the state that since Chakrabarty was due to retire on Monday, it should not seek more time with a reason that his approval on the decision was awaited, the state lawyer assured the court that the chief secretary will put his signature on the SEC’s decision on Monday itself.
The high court adjourned the hearing to March 2 (Wednesday).

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