Deepak Kumar Radheshyam Khurana & Ors v. Mumbai Port Trust & Anr

Writ Petition (L) No. 17132 of 2021 | Mumbai Port Trust was represented by HSA team comprising of Rahul Jain, Associate Counsel and Aasiya Khan, Associate from the Firm's Mumbai office.

Background facts

  • In the instant case, Mr. Deepak Kumar Radheshyam Khurana & Others (Petitioners) are the employees of the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) (Respondent No.1), which is an autonomous corporation of Union of India (Respondent No.2).
  • Vide an office circular dated June 15, 2021, the Respondent No. 1 inter alia stipulated that its employees who were not vaccinated must produce RT-PCR test certificates to attend office, every ten days. Furthermore, the Respondent No.1 also specified in the circular that it will not bear the treatment costs of the employees who refused to vaccinate themselves as they were effectively insisting on placing themselves at a much higher risk of contracting Covid-19.
  • In view of this, the Petitioners filed a Writ Petition before the Hon'ble Bombay High Court, on the following grounds:
    • Vaccination is a voluntary act, and the Respondents cannot compel the Petitioners to get vaccinated.
    • Unvaccinated employees were on par with the vaccinated employees as far as the transmission of the disease was concerned, and therefore, the periodic RT-PCR tests must be performed free of cost in Respondent No.1's hospital.

Issue at hand?

  • Whether the requirement of mandatorily producing RT-PCR reports of the Petitioners of the Respondents, every ten days, was reasonable or not?

HSA Viewpoint

The Bombay High Court's decision - that the mandate by MPT to produce periodic RT-PCR reports by the employees who refused to get vaccinated was reasonable - rightly serves as a guiding precedent for Courts while deciding whether any restrictions on the basis of vaccination status/furnishing of periodic negative Covid-19 test results, falls within the umbrella of reasonable restriction on the fundamental rights or not. While studying various decisions of the other High Courts, which took action on the basis that even vaccinated persons could be infected with Covid-19 and could transmit the disease to others, the High Court has looked beyond the obvious, by pointing that the risk of such infections occurring was greatly reduced in vaccinated persons and was significantly higher in unvaccinated persons. The decision is indeed laudable in trying to balance the individual's personal choice in getting the Covid vaccination against the health/safety concerns of the larger workforce.

Decision of the Court

  • The Hon'ble High Court remarked that the contention of the Petitioners of being compelled to get vaccinated, does not hold water as the Respondents have evidently provided an alternative of producing periodical RT-PCR reports. Therefore, the High Court stated that the only issue which is to be riddled out is the mandatory production of the RT-PCR report.
  • Subsequently, the High Court analyzed the Order of the Gauhati High Court in Re Dintar Incident vs. State of Mizoram & Ors1 , the Interim Order of the Gauhati High Court in Madan Mili vs. Union of India & Ors2 , Order of the Meghalaya High Court in Registrar General, High Court of Meghalaya vs. State of Meghalaya3 , the Interim Order of the Manipur High Court in Osbert Khaling vs State of Manipur & Ors4 and the Interim Order of the Gauhati High Court in the case of Dr. Aniruddha Babar vs State of Nagaland & Anr5 , which were heavily relied on by the Petitioners.
  • After juxtaposing and scrutinizing all the aforesaid decisions and Interim Orders of various High Courts, the Bombay High Court advanced a noteworthy observation that, in the present case, Respondent No.1 has not imposed any forceful restrictions which would effectively forbid the unvaccinated employees from working. In this backdrop, the High Court also expressed that the aforementioned decisions and Interim Orders do little to no help to the Petitioners' case.
  • Furthermore, the High Court perused the medical material published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Technical Paper of the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Kerala to arrive at the conclusion that international and state agencies and Governments across the world consider Covid-19 vaccination not only an immense protection against contracting the disease and but effectively reduces the risk of its transmission. Continuing in this vein, the High Court expounded the following, 'Given that unvaccinated persons pose a greater risk of transmission of Covid-19 than vaccinated persons, it is reasonable for a large organization such as the MPT to require a higher degree of checking and monitoring of the Covid-19 status of unvaccinated persons.'. Therefore, the High Court deduced that the argument of the Petitioners' pitched upon the ground that vaccinated and unvaccinated employees stand on the same footing as far as the transmission of the disease was concerned, was ill-conceived and untenable.
  • Lastly, the High Court highlighted that the Petitioners' choice to not take the vaccination was well respected; however, that did not signify that they were ipso facto entitled to an equal treatment as that given to vaccinated persons by Respondent No.1.
  • In light of the above, the High Court answered the issue in the affirmative and dismissed the Petition.

Acme Cleantech Solutions Pvt Ltd v. United India Insurance Company Ltd & Anr

Civil Appeal Nos 4476-4477 of 2021

Background facts

  • In the present case, M/s Acme Cleantech Solutions Pvt Ltd (Appellant) filed a consumer complaint in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on the ground that M/s United India Insurance Company Ltd (First Respondent) failed to settle the insurance claims of the Appellant.
  • Accordingly, the complaint was inter alia admitted along with a direction to the Appellant to issue a notice under Section 13(2) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (Act) to the First Respondent to file its Written Statement. However, the First Respondent failed to file the Written Statement within the stipulated time.
  • Thereafter, the First Respondent issued a letter on March 6, 2020 to the Appellant, whereby the insurance claims of the Appellant were repudiated. Furthermore, on the same day, the First Respondent filed an Interim Application seeking the dismissal of the consumer complaint filed in the NCDRC on the ground that the complaint was rendered infructuous, without making any reference to the repudiation of the Appellant's claims in the application.
  • Consequently, the NCDRC ordered the Appellant to file an amended complaint to challenge the repudiation of insurance claims and granted permission to the First Respondent to file a Written Statement on the amended complaint.
  • Aggrieved by this, the Appellant preferred an Appeal in the Supreme Court of India (SC) against the aforesaid NCDRC Order to the extent that it directs the Appellant to file an amended complaint and allows the First Respondent to file a Written Statement to the amended complaint on the ground that this is contrary to the provisions of Section 13(2) read with Section 22 of the Act.


1 Order dated 2nd July 2021 in WP(C) No.37 of 2020

2 Order dated 19th July 2021 in PIL No.13 of 2021

3 Order dated 23rd June 2021 in PIL No.6 of 2021

4 Order dated 13th July 2021 in PIL No.34 of 2021

5 Order dated 28th July 2021 in PIL No.6 of 2021

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Originally Published by January 2022

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