India's Covid Vaccinations court case information
According to the petitioner, the mandates on vaccination by states are arbitrary, discriminatory and an infringement of a citizen's fundamental rights
While challenging the validity of mandates imposed on vaccination in India, an affidavit has been filed before the Supreme Court arguing that administering vaccines through coercion cannot be a matter of public health since the vaccines are not an effective guarantee against infection and transmission.
The petitioner has argued that as vaccination does not prevent transmission of the disease, therefore discriminating against unvaccinated persons by denying them access to services or the means to earn their livelihood is arbitrary, discriminatory and unconstitutional.
The submissions have been made through an additional affidavit filed by Dr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group of Immunisation, in his petition filed seeking directions for public disclosure of clinical trial data of COVID vaccines, and to stop the coercive mandate issued by various governments for vaccination. The affidavit has been filed through Advocate Prashant Bhushan.
To support its arguments, the petitioner has cited examples of outbreaks of the virus amongst fully vaccinated populations including Iceland and Israel where a high percentage of the population have been fully vaccinated, yet an increase of cases is being experienced.
Through the additional affidavit the petitioner has sought to bring on record the following aspects for the Court's consideration:
- Scientific evidence that natural immunity being long-lasting and robust as compared to vaccine immunity,
- Vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission for Covid-19 and are not effective in preventing against infection from the new variants,
- Clinical trials in relation to the vaccines have not been completed and vaccines are only authorised for emergency use,
- Serious adverse events are being reported in India and globally from the Covid 19 vaccinations.
Based on the above-mentioned aspects, the petitioner has argued that any mandates for these vaccines are against scientific caution, cannot be issued in the public interest and are also against an individual's right to free and complete informed consent and the right to self-determination.
Balance Between Individual & Societal Aspect:
The petitioner has argued that for any vaccine to be mandated, the public health rationale underlying such a policy must be based essentially on efficacy and safety of vaccination and transmission of the disease. However, according to various scientific studies, there is evidence that vaccinated people not just transmit the virus as much as unvaccinated but also breakthrough infections and hospitalisations are now rampant across various countries in vaccinated populations.
Mandating Vaccination By States Arbitrary & Infringes Fundamental Rights:
According to the petitioner, the vaccination is not preventing serious disease nor its transmission and no public interest purpose is served by mandating the vaccine. Therefore, the mandates on vaccination by States are arbitrary, discriminatory and an unconstitutional infringement of a citizen's fundamental rights
Compulsory Vaccination By Authorities By Way Of Coercion 'Unconstitutional'
The petitioner has submitted that the mandates that are being issued by various authorities across the country, both public and private institutions, making vaccination compulsory by way of coercion, are unconstitutional and repugnant to an individual's right to self-determination.
"Coercion to take the vaccine is also illegal and contrary to what the government has responded to in numerous right to information applications, stating that the vaccination programme is voluntary." the petitioner has said.
According to the petitioner, there are studies available that show that:
- Those who are Covid recovered (more than 2/3 of India population) have more robust and durable immunity than the vaccinated.
- Vaccination does not significantly reduce susceptibility to re-infection or ability to transmit the virus.
- Healthy children are almost at no risk of serious disease from Covid-19
- Administering experimental vaccines to children, about which no medium or long term side effects are known is unethical and irresponsible.
High Court orders on discrimination against unvaccinated people:
The petitioner has pointed out that various High courts have also held that a notification making vaccination mandatory cannot put a fetter on the fundamental right to life of an individual by denying them the right to livelihood or access to any essential services, etc.
Further, High Courts have also held that the welfare policy for vaccination can never affect a major fundamental right, i.e. right to life, personal liberty and livelihood, especially when there exists no reasonable nexus between vaccination and prohibition of the continuance of occupation
The petitioner has also cited the following articles to support his stand:
- Article in the National Geographic Science: According to the petitioner, the article states that a study has shown that in the case of a breakthrough infection, the Delta variant is able to grow in the noses of vaccinated people to the same degree as if they were not vaccinated at all.
- CDC Study: Vaccinated people make up 74 per cent of total cases in Massachusetts outbreak.
- Associated Press news: It was reported on 31st July 2021 that a study concluded that vaccinated people can carry as much virus as others and therefore contribute equally to the transmission of the disease.
- A study by the University of Oxford scientists: The study has found that people who contract the Delta variant of Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated carry a similar amount of the corona virus as those who catch the disease and have not been inoculated.
- Article in The Telegraph: It was reported that fully vaccinated people who catch Covid variants might pass the virus on. It cited a study done by the University of Washington that sequenced samples from 20 health workers who went on to contract Covid after receiving both doses of the vaccine.
- Supreme Court had on 9th August issued a notice in the present PIL to the Union of India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Drug Controller of India and vaccine manufacturers Bharat Biotech Ltd and Serum Institute of India.
- The Bench had however refused to pass any orders against the vaccination at this stage.
- "Let the vaccination go on and we don't want to stop this. We will examine your points", the Bench had said.
- "Once we entertain this petition it should not send a signal that we do not trust the efficacy of these vaccines", Justice Nageswara Rao had orally remarked.
About the petition:
The plea was filed seeking directions to make public the segregated data of the clinical trials for the vaccines that are being administered to the population in India under the Emergency Use Authorisation granted by the Drugs Controller General of India( DCGI)
The plea filed through Advocate Prashant Bhushan has sought directions for the release of entire segregated trial data for each phase of trial undertaken for vaccines being administered in India. The petitioner has clarified that the present plea should not be understood as a plea challenging the present Covid vaccination programme.
Further, directions have been sought to Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation to disclose the decision of DGCI granting approval or rejecting an application for emergency use of authorisation of vaccines and documents submitted to DGCI support of the application.
The plea has also sought directions for disclosure of post-vaccination data regarding adverse events, vaccinated who got infected with Covid, needed hospitalisation and those who died post-vaccination. Such events should also be advertised through toll-free number.
Further, the plea has sought a declaration that vaccine mandates, in any manner whatsoever, even by making it a precondition for accessing any benefit or services is violative of the rights of citizens and is unconstitutional.
The petitioner avers and wishes to record the evidence in the medical literature that, vaccines that have not been adequately tested for safety or efficacy are now licensed under Emergency Use Authorisation without data being disclosed to the public.
This according to the petitioner, is in clear violation of basic norms of scientific disclosure and guidelines for disclosure of clinical trial data as laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The plea has stated that disclosure of segregated data of vaccine clinical trials with segregation made for each vaccine and each group cannot be undermined and must be disclosed through peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Case Title: Dr Jacob Puliyel vs Union of India & Ors
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Source: Live Law.in
Author: Srishti Ojha 4 Sep 2021