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Maharashtra government bars senior citizens from film sets, call it non discriminatory

Maharshtra goverment said that its order to prohibit people aged 65 or above from visiting film sets is in no way meant to discriminate but is taken in the interest of their safety.

Maharashtra goverment in their statement told the Bombay High Court that the decision to restrain persons above 65 years of age from attending shootings on film and television sets was not to discriminate against them, and was taken in the general interest of such people.

However, the government also revealed that no statistics or data were taken under consideration while prohibiting those above the age of 65 from shooting or being on film sets.

The Maharashtra government on Saturday filed an affidavit by Prasad Mahajan, under secretary in the state Department of Tourism and Cultural Affair. The government said its order prohibiting people above the age of 65 years from going to film and television shooting sets was not with a view to discriminate, but was in the general interest and for the safety of such people.

A petition was filed by one Pramod Pandey challenging the guidelines issued by the state government on May 30, 2020, stating that no cast/crew member above the age of 65 years will be allowed to film and television shooting sets.

The 70-year-old petitioner said that acting in TV serials is his only source of livelihood and he has been doing those for four decades.

He further said in his petition that even though he is physically fit, he is not allowed to go on the shooting sets.

In the affidavit by the Maharashta goverment, they have specified children and senior citizens to not go out considering the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Maharashtra Government Affidavit

“The said condition is not to deprive any cast/crew members above the age of 65 years nor can it be termed as discriminatory as interest of the cast and crew has been protected and balance is maintained by permitting them to either work from home or over video conferencing or other video sharing apps,” the affidavit said.

“Those persons who are unable to go to the studios can work from home and earn their livelihood as being done by many individuals in private offices. If this too is not possible, then alternative arrangements should be adopted for earning livelihood and survival in this Covid-19 pandemic situation, the government said.

On considering data or statistics for the order

When asked if the government relied on data or statistics before the order was issued, the affidavit said, “No data/reports/ statistics were taken into consideration before issuing the impugned guidelines restraining cast/crew members above the age of 65 years from attending shooting sets or studios.” The affidavit said in order to keep control in the rising Covid-19 cases, the state government had imposed restrictions on various sectors. Some of these restrictions were relaxed from time to time.

Replying to the petitioner

The goverment reiterated that the petitioner (Pandey) may be physically fit but one can never understand or estimate when the virus may be contracted.

“The virus could infect any individual who would come in contact with an infected person. A person could be asymptomatic and could spread the infection to others who have low or weak immunity, the affidavit said.

The affidavit further added, “If the central government relaxes its guidelines pertaining to persons above the age of 65 years then the state government would also adopt the same.”

Meanwhile, A division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and R I Chagla will take up the petition for final hearing next week.

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