A petition has been filed within the Supreme Court stating that coercing people to urge them to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by imposing it as a condition for access to essential services, benefits are unconstitutional (Dr. Jacob Puliyel v. Union of India). The plea made by Dr. Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, asked for a declaration that making it necessary to vaccinate for COVID, in any way whatsoever, even making it a precondition for accessing any benefits or services, may be a violation of rights of citizens and unconstitutional.
"Coercing people to require the vaccines on pain of losing their jobs or access to essential services, many instances have begun to happen in many parts of the country, is a violation of the fundamental rights of individuals, especially during a situation where emergency approvals are given to vaccines without full and adequate testing and with none transparency of the trial data and post-vaccination data," the plea filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan said.
While the government has clearly stated in numerous RTIs that Covid vaccines are voluntary, there are various cases in the country where people are being asked to get vaccinated as a condition, the plea added.
In this regard, reliance was placed on the Supreme Court judgment in KS Putaswamy v. Union of India in it I used to be stated that "right to 'autonomy' of the individual which may interchangeably be said to be her right to 'self-determine' when it comes to her health flows from Article 21 and maybe a facet of her right to privacy."
The plea also alleged that the vaccines currently being used and injected on people are not properly tested for safety or efficacy, licensed under Emergency Use Authorisation without disclosure of any data to the public.
"This could also be a transparent violation of the essential norms of scientific disclosure and thus the rules with regard to the disclosure of clinical trial data, as laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and followed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). In India, the way during which the vaccines are licensed vitiates and even precludes the likelihood that the vaccines are often evaluated objectively within the future," the petition stated.
The plea cited a scarcity of transparency within the data of clinical trials with reference to the vaccines.
"The respondents have practiced complete secrecy within the matter and haven't disclosed any data from trials for the vaccines that are developed in India, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech or for the Covishield manufactured at the Serum Institute of India,” the petition said.
The petitioner, therefore, sought to underline the necessity for authorities to carefully monitor vaccine recipients and publicly record all adverse events.
“Many countries stopped administering the vaccine till they evaluated this occurrence and countries like Denmark have completely banned the utilization of AstraZeneca vaccine (branded as Covishield) in India,” it had been submitted.
The plea, therefore, also sought directions to be issued to the Central government so as that the segregated data of the clinical trials of the vaccines that are being administered to people in India under the emergency use authorization granted by the Drugs Controller General of India, is made public