Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan and health activists have approached Supreme Court seeking guidelines for vaccination and said that coercing people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by imposing it as a condition for access to essential services, benefits is unconstitutional. The plea by Dr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTGAI) through Prashant Bhushan, said that mandating vaccination for COVID, in any manner whatsoever, even by way of making it a precondition for accessing any benefits or services, is a violation of rights of citizens and unconstitutional.
“Coercing people to take the vaccines on pain of losing their jobs or access to essential services, which has begun to happen in many parts of the country, is a violation of the fundamental rights of people, especially in a situation where emergency approvals have been given to vaccines without full and adequate testing and without any transparency of the trial data and post-vaccination data,” the plea filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan said.
The petition pointed out that there is a lack of transparency in the data of clinical trials with regard to the vaccines.
The petition said that though the government many times reiterated that the vaccination is voluntary, many instances from across the country where now various authorities are mandating the vaccines. In this regard, reliance was placed on the Supreme Court judgment in KS Putaswamy vs. Union of India in which it was held that “right to ‘autonomy’ of the individual which can interchangeably be said to be her right to ‘self-determine’ when it comes to her health flows from Article 21 and is a facet of her right to privacy,” said the petition.
The plea also alleged that the vaccines currently being administered have not been adequately tested for safety or efficacy are now licensed under Emergency Use Authorisation without the data being disclosed to the public. “This is a clear violation of the basic norms of scientific disclosure and the guidelines with respect 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 manner in which the vaccines have been licensed vitiates and even precludes the possibility that the vaccines can be evaluated objectively in the future,” said the petition pointing out the secrecies kept by Covishield and Covaxin producers in Indian.
“Many countries stopped administering the vaccine till they evaluated this occurrence and countries like Denmark have completely banned the use of AstraZeneca vaccine (branded as Covishield) in India,” pointed out the petition.
The petition pointed out that there is a lack of transparency in the data of clinical trials with regard to the vaccines. “The respondents have practised complete secrecy in the matter and have not disclosed nay data from trials for the vaccines that have been developed in India, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech or for the Covishield manufactured at the Serum Institute of India,” the petition said, demanding the need for authorities to carefully monitor vaccine recipients and publicly record all adverse events.
The petition has also sought directions to be issued to Central Drugs Control Organisation to disclose the detailed minutes of the meetings of the Subject Expert Committee and the NTGAI with regard to the vaccines as directed by the 59th Parliamentary Standing Committee Report and the members who constituted the committee for the purpose of each approval meeting.
 AstraZeneca vaccine: Denmark stops rollout completely – Apr 14, 2021, BBC
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