Ruling against the treatment of restricting the unvaccinated individuals in the public places, the Supreme Court has on Monday- May 2 issued an order that no person can be forced to get a Covid vaccine. The directive has come when the cases are soaring up in several states, which had prompted the return of the mask and vaccine mandate.
The Supreme Court bench comprised of Justices Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai has said that no person can be forced to get vaccinated against the Covid-19. Quoting the provision under Article 21 of the Constitution in its take, the apex court has highlighted that bodily autonomy and integrity are protected under Article 21 and that the current Covid-19 vaccine policy cannot be said to be manifestly arbitrary and unreasonable.
The bench said, "Till (Covid) numbers are low, we suggest that relevant orders are followed and no restriction is imposed on unvaccinated individuals on access to public areas or recall the same if already not done." It has also noted that the vaccine mandates imposed by various state governments and other authorities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic are not appropriate.
It further held that no substantial data has been produced on record to show that the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus from the unvaccinated persons is higher than from vaccinated persons. The court has further suggested that all authorities, including private institutions and educational institutions, should review the restrictions on the unvaccinated.
By citing that the Covid-19 vaccination policy of the government is reasonable, it has been observed that the clinical trial data of the vaccines have been published in accordance with the relevant norms. The judgement was pronounced on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that was filed by Dr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group of Immunization.
In his petition, he challenged the vaccine mandates. Advocate Prashant Bhushan had argued against the vaccine mandates and said that mandating vaccination is unconstitutional. He noted, "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 prevention of transmission of the disease."
In its judgment, the Supreme Court has also directed the Centre to publish reports on adverse events of vaccines from the public and doctors on a publicly accessible system without compromising the data of individuals. Meanwhile, India's Covid case positivity rate has breached 1% again after two months as the country has recorded 3,157 fresh cases in the 24 hours till Monday morning. India has also recorded 26 fatalities, which pushed the total death toll to 5,23,869.