The Gauhati High Court has asked the Nagaland government to modify its SOPs to allow teaching and non-teaching staff the option of compulsorily getting tested for Covid every 15 days, if choosing not to go for vaccination, in view of the reopening of schools and colleges in the state, a court official said on Friday.
The Kohima bench of Justice Songkhupchung Serto and Justice S. Hukato Swu directed the Nagaland’s Principal Secretary, Home, to modify the relevant paragraph in the two standard operating procedures, issued by the state, stating that for opening of schools and colleges, the teaching and non-teaching staff should be fully vaccinated or should have taken first dose of vaccine 15 days prior to such opening.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to modify the SOPs to the extent that those who choose not to be vaccinated may be given the option of being compulsorily tested every 15 days, the division bench said: “Considering the submissions of the learned counsel on this and taking into account of the fact that no one can be compulsorily vaccinated, we are of the view that the option prayed for can be granted.”
It, thus, directed the state government to modify its SOPs.
In another order following a separate PIL, the judges said that the salaries of government employees should not be stopped for the reason of not having been vaccinated.
“We are of the considered view that prima facie the order (issued by Chief Secretary J. Alam) is not in consonance with the orders passed by this court in the PIL (suo moto) and right of the employees under the Constitution of India,” the order said.
Citing the decision taken by the High Powered Committee on Covid-19, the Chief Secretary, in his July 17 order, asked all employees in the Nagaland Secretariat and Directorates would be required to be vaccinated to attend office, or to produce Covid-19 negative test report by getting tested every 15 days through either RT-PCR or TrueNat or CBNAAT on self-payment basis, as per government approved rates.
“The salaries of those who have not taken a single dose of vaccine against Covid-19 or who have failed to furnish Covid-19 negative test report would be stopped beyond July 31 and they would not attend office. The period of absence of such employees will be treated as leave without pay,” the order had said.
The matter would again come up before the court on August 18.