Coercing patients to have COVID-19 vaccines as a requirement for access to vital care and benefits is illegal, according to a lawsuit lodged in the Supreme Court. Dr. Jacob Puliyel, a former director of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, requested a resolution that mandating COVID vaccination in any way, even as a condition of receiving any benefits or services, is a violation of citizens’ rights and unconstitutional. The vaccinations now being prescribed have not been properly tested for protection or effectiveness, according to the plea, and are now only for Emergency Use authorization without the data being disclosed with public.
- Although the government has claimed in several RTIs that Covid vaccines are optional, the plea added that there are numerous instances around the world where the vaccines are now being mandated by different authorities.
- “Forcing people to take vaccines on the threat of losing their jobs or access to essential services, as has begun to happen in many parts of the country,” the report says, “it is a violation of people’s fundamental rights, particularly in a situation where vaccines have been given emergency approvals without full and adequate testing and without any transparency of trial data and post vaccination data.” Prashant Bhushan in its plea said.
- “This is a clear violation of the basic norms of scientific disclosure and the guidelines with respect to clinical trial data, as laid down by the World Health Organization (WHO) and followed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). In India, the manner in which the vaccines have been licensed vitiates and also precludes the possibility of the vaccines being evaluated objectively.” Petition stated.
- Furthermore, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization has been directed to release the opinion of the DGCI approving or refusing an application for emergency use of vaccine authorization, as well as the documentation sent to the DGCI in favor of the application.
- The petition further requests that post-vaccination reports on adverse effects, vaccinees who were infected with covid and required hospitalization, and those who died as a result of the vaccination be made public. Such activities can be publicized using a toll-free phone. Furthermore, the petition asks for a declaration that vaccination requirements, in some form, are unconstitutional, and making it a requirement for receiving certain compensation or programs is illegal and violates citizens’ rights.
- The complainant acknowledged that Covid is a public health emergency, and could necessitate emergency use authorizations for vaccinations that have not yet been properly reviewed.
- That is not to say that any relevant knowledge and evidence on the effectiveness and side effects of vaccinations that have received such approval should not be routinely gathered and made widely accessible, especially where the vaccines are used in a compulsory immunization program. While emergency vaccine authorization can be prudent in the current situation, it does not imply that these vaccinations should be imposed upon citizens, especially without all relevant information.
- Furthermore, the complainant requested that no coercive requirements for the use of these inadequately screened vaccinations be released, and that the courts reiterate that vaccination mandates are incompatible with humans’ right to privacy and the right of self- determination over what is pumped into their bodies. In doing so, the Supreme Court would protect individuals’ rights to give informed consent, as the Delhi High Court did in the Measles-Rubella case. The Petition states that coercing people to get vaccinated, whether directly or implicitly, is unethical and violates citizens’ Right to Life.
- “India, with its large population and number of vaccinated, should have reported these adverse effects first, but due to poor follow-up and poor adverse events following immunization (AEFI) assessment and denial of data, these incidents have not been made public, endangering many to suffer the same fate,” the petition claims.
- The complainant contends that forcing citizens to take vaccines under threat of losing their jobs or access to basic care, as has started to happen in many areas of the world, is a blatant breach of fundamental rights. Furthermore, it has been argued that, while emergency vaccine authorization might be appropriate in the current situation, it does not imply that these vaccinations should be imposed upon citizens, especially without relevant evidence available for unbiased public and science review.
By: – Tanushree Chakraborty Final Year, BA LLBJEMTEC School Of Law