Madras High Court balances privacy rights and workplace safety in Covid vaccination case

by | Feb 28, 2024

In the recent ruling of Mr. Gopal Vittal, Bharti Airtel Ltd v. Mr. Kamtci Shankar Arumugam, the Madras High Court has distinguished between the right to privacy of an individual versus the safety rights of a larger group. In this case, the petitioner company wanted its employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and had arranged for free vaccination of all its employees. The respondent employee refused to take the Covid vaccine. The employer maintained a list of employees who did not get vaccinated and instructed those employees to wear a mask while in office or, otherwise, work from home. The employee accused the employer of failing to protect his sensitive personal data by putting his name on the list of employees who did not get vaccinated.

The Madras High Court ruled that an individual cannot be forced to be vaccinated. However, at the same time, an employer can take measures to ensure the welfare of the majority of its employees. The court took the view that the action of the petitioner company in preparing a list of employees who were not vaccinated and to follow-up with them regarding their vaccination status did not amount to a breach of Section 43A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (under which a failure to protect personal data can be penalized and compensation is payable), because this was an effort on the part of the company to safeguard others from Covid-19. This ruling clarifies that the right to keep safe the larger employee body supersedes an individual’s personal rights in such a situation.

More News

The Legal 500 2024 Rankings

We are pleased to share that our firm has been recognised for its work across practice areas by The Legal 500 (Legalease) in their 2024 rankings. Firm Rankings Antitrust and Competition Corporate and M&A Data Protection Dispute Resolution: Litigation Intellectual...

read more

“Workman” interpreted under Indian employment law

In the recent case of Rohit Dembiwal v. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., the Bombay High Court held that an IT analyst did not qualify as a “workman” under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, as his day-to-day responsibilities were supervisory in nature, and his...

read more

EXL deemed not to have a PE in India

Last week, in the EXL Service.Com, Inc. case, the Delhi Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (Tribunal) followed the Supreme Court’s rulings in the Formula One and E-Funds cases and, inter alia, held that a US taxpayer does not have a fixed place permanent establishment...

read more