Mumbai News

Bombay HC says restriction on aged artists at movie, TV sets is ‘discriminatory’ – Hindustan Times

The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday observed that the state’s prohibition on the cast and crew members above 65 years of age from attending studios or outdoor shootings amid the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be a case of discrimination.

The bench of justice SJ Kathawalla and justice Riyaz Chagla questioned why only aged film and television artists were prevented from stepping out for work, even as shop keepers who are above 65 years of age are allowed to sit at their shops throughout the day.

The court was hearing the government’s response on a petition filed by 70-year-old actor Pramod Pandey, who claimed that though he is physically fit, the state’s rule deprived him of the only source of livelihood.

Government lawyer Purnima Kantharia pointed out that restriction was based on the number of orders issued by the central and the state governments from time to time. She added that aged persons have been instructed right from the beginning to not step out, except for essential supplies.

Kantharia also pointed out that no individual, other than those engaged in essential services, are allowed to travel on trains or by air. She also said that private offices are also allowed to function only with 10℅ staff.

After hearing the state’s response, the court appointed senior advocate Sharan Jagtiani as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist HC in arriving at a proper decision on the petition. The final hearing is scheduled for July 29.

In the meanwhile, the court directed the government to file an affidavit by Saturday, setting out the basis for imposing the restriction, and to clarify if any data, statistics or report was taken into consideration before issuing such a restriction.

On Tuesday, Pandey, who has been earning his livelihood by performing small roles in films and television serials from the past 40 years, challenged a clause in the guidelines issued by the state on May 30, on the shooting of film and television serials. Pandey had also claimed that perusal of the available data makes it clear that a majority of the Covid-19 patients are below the age of 65. He added that the state’s decision has grave hardship and prejudice will be caused to him, if he was prevented from participating in the shootings, as he will not be able to survive with dignity and self-respect.

Based on his petition, the court had then asked the government how physically fit senior citizens were expected to live a dignified life if they were not allowed to go out and earn a livelihood. The court also asked the government to explain where else was such a similar restriction on the movement of aged people imposed by the state.