Even as medical advice says senior citizens face greater danger in moving out because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bombay High Court has rejected an advisory issued by the Maharashtra Government and said an age-based restriction in only one profession amounts to discrimination.
A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice R I Chagla allowed senior citizens to head back to work and resume shooting.
In the 37 page judgment, the bench observed, “If there is no general prohibition on persons above the age of 65 years from working or practising their trade in those sectors and businesses which are allowed to operate, and age-based prohibition in only one industry, namely the film industry/television/OTT, without any material to support its differential classification, would constitute an unreasonable restriction.”
After submission of all the replies, the court considered it a violation of Article 14 (Right to Equality). “We are of the view that the impugned condition that seeks to apply to persons above the age of 65 who are engaged in only one occupation or trade but not to others of the same class, cannot be said to be a reasonable restriction,” stated the bench.
The order came on public interest litigation filed by senior actor Pramod Pandey (69) and Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) seeking the directions to quash the Maharashtra government’s May 30 Government directive.
In the previous hearing, Bombay High Court had pulled up the state government considering it a discriminatory decision and had questioned the grounds on which the senior citizens above the age of 65 were restricted from working at shooting. Besides that, the court had also sought a clarification from the state government about its May 30 and June 23 GRs, whether they were prohibitory/mandatory or advisory/recommendatory.
Senior artistes like Naseeruddin Shah, Kamaljeet Singh, and Surekha Sikri among others expressed satisfaction at the Court order.