The Meghalaya High Court on Monday directed the state government to take serious note of the fact that some persons were spreading rumours on the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines using various social media platforms.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew heard a suo motu PIL concerning orders issued by the State Government making vaccination mandatory for shopkeepers, vendors, local taxi drivers etc. before they can resume their businesses.
On Monday, the status report was filed on behalf of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Meghalaya. Upon perusing the same, the High Court found that it does not reveal any step taken by Meghalaya Police to specifically identify and book those persons who are responsible for spreading false rumours using various social media platforms with regard to the efficacy of vaccines, in order to create an element of fear psychosis in the society, which is one of the primary reasons for vaccine hesitancy in 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 rumour-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 learned 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 order reads.
The Court has fixed the matter on August 17 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 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 has further directed the Member Secretary of the Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority, Shillong, shall 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 enquire and find out as to whether the concerned departments are actually taking steps to ensure that the Government Welfare Schemes for the marginalised 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.