Supreme Court nullifies mandatory Covid-19 vaccination in India

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The Supreme Court on Monday nullified the imposition of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in India. The apex court of the country in its ruling on Monday declared that “no person can be forced to get vaccinated;” adding that “the constitution gives everyone the right to refuse vaccination.”

A petition was initiated challenging the imposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandate by some state governments in India restricting unvaccinated people from certain public places in the states. The petition constituted a suit at the India Supreme Court presided by the bench which include Justices L Nageswara Rao, and B R Gavai.

The judges upheld the constitutional rights of Indian citizens, and the freedom to reject COVI-19 vaccine.

The Supreme Court in the judgment declared: “Considering bodily autonomy, bodily integrity is protected under Article 21. No one can be forced to get vaccinated. [But] government can regulate in areas of bodily autonomy.”

It was noted that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides for protection of life and personal liberty to citizens.

The bench insisted that “while infection rates are low, individuals should not be restricted from accessing public places and services.”

The petition was filed at the Supreme Court by Dr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group, the highest advisory body on immunisation in India.

Dr Puliyel questioned the validity of the mandatory vaccination policies enforced by many state governments in India on employees travelling in public transport or permitting access to subsidised food grains.

The petitioner argued that also that the vaccines were not adequately tested and demanded the revealing of clinical trial data and adverse events resulting from mass Covid-19 vaccination campaigns.

The Supreme Court, in the judgment, also ordered the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publish, on a publicly accessible system, reports of adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

The court ordered authorities in the affected states, including educational and private institutions, to review restrictions imposed on unvaccinated people.

The court declared: “Regarding segregation of vaccine trial data, subject to the privacy of individuals, all trials already conducted and to be subsequently conducted, all data must be made available to the public without further delay.”

The court also stated: “Regarding vaccine for children, it is not possible for us to second guess the opinion of experts and the vaccination indeed follows the global standards and practices. However, data of adverse reactions should be published at the earliest.”

The Supreme Court maintained: “Barring Covid-appropriate behaviour, we suggest no curbs on unvaccinated individuals in access to public places, services and resources if cases are low.”

Figures compiled by the Indian Ministry of Health indicated that over 1.89 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered on India citizens since the immunisation policy began in January.

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