Medicinal

COVID-19: Supreme Court upholds individual right to compulsory vaccination

Physical independence and integrity are protected under Article 21 of the Constitution and hold the Supreme Court.

Physical independence and integrity are protected under Article 21 of the Constitution and hold the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld both the individual’s right to compulsory vaccination and the government’s current vaccination policy to protect community health, but to basic welfare measures and freedom. Recognized certain vaccine obligations imposed by state governments / coalition regions that tend to deny access Imbalances in transfer to unvaccinated individuals.

Bench, led by Judge L. Nageshwararao, said that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 infection from unvaccinated individuals is about the same as the risk of transmission from vaccinated individuals. In the face of, he said that the obligation for such vaccines had withered.

“Setting up a virtual public platform”

The court has instructed the Center to set up a virtual public platform as soon as possible so that individual and private physicians can report adverse events of the vaccine without compromising privacy.

“Apart from contributing to scientific research on pandemics, information related to adverse events is important for raising awareness of vaccines and their efficiency … Collecting data on adverse events and broader participation is appropriate. I need it, “says Judge Lao. He made and observed the judgment.

Childhood vaccination policy

Judge BR Gavai also said that India’s pediatric vaccination policy against the COVID-19 virus is in harmony with the “global scientific consensus” and the views of experts from the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Pediatric Organization. I decided that I was doing it. Emergency Fund and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The court said it did not want to “again guess” the views of these experts on which the government implemented its pediatric vaccination policy.

However, the court will publish the findings and results of relevant stages of clinical trials of vaccines already approved by regulatory agencies for administration to children as soon as possible, even if they have not yet been done. Instructed the federal government.

The court said the government had already disclosed isolated clinical data on Phase 3 trials.

A document released by the government claimed that “without a thorough review of the data, it does not guarantee the impression that an emergency use authorization for the Covishield and Covacine vaccines has been granted in a hurry.”

The court reiterated that “all relevant data published under the statutory system must be made publicly available without undue delay,” with respect to ongoing and future trials, subject to the protection of personal privacy. ..

Bench had a great deal of freedom for the government to formulate policies that affect public health based on expert medical opinion, but courts said the policies were irrational, apparently arbitrary, and individual. He said he was not forbidden to scrutinize whether it affected his right to life.

The court balanced the individual’s right to physical integrity and the refusal to treat government concerns about public health.

“Regarding individual physical integrity and individual autonomy in the light of vaccines and other public health measures introduced to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we have Article 21 (Right to Life) of physical integrity. We believe that we are protected under). It is a constitutional provision and we cannot force individuals to be vaccinated, “the Supreme Court stipulated.

The court found that a person has the right to refuse treatment under Article 21.

“The individual autonomy of an individual, which is a recognized aspect of the protection guaranteed in Article 21, includes the right to refuse treatment in the area of ​​personal health,” Judge Lao said. Said.

“Community health”

But when the problem extended to “community health,” the government was certainly given the “right to regulate the problem.”

However, government rights that regulated by imposing restrictions on individual rights to protect public health were also exposed to judicial scrutiny.

The court found that the right to government intervention in personal autonomy and access to livelihoods met the “triple” requirement described in the KS Puttuswamy Constitutional Bench decision (a decision in favor of the right). I had the authority to consider if I was there. Infringement of privacy as a constitutional right under Article 21.

The three requirements include whether the legality of the restrictions imposed by the government on individual rights presupposes the existence of law. That is, the restrictions need to be supported by a clear statutory law.

Second, the need for restrictions should be proportional to the purpose of a legitimate state.

Third, there should be a rational link between the national purpose of imposing restrictions and the measures adopted to achieve them.

The court concluded that the federal government’s current vaccination policy meets the requirements and is “not irrational and clearly arbitrary.”

This policy is “a nearly unanimous view of experts on the benefits of vaccination in dealing with severe infections, oxygen requirements, hospital and ICU admissions, mortality, and prevention of the emergence of new variants. It reflects.

The ruling did not participate in the “specific quarter” debate that innate immunity provides better protection against the virus, saying “it was not appropriate to determine our previous issue.”

However, the court, both the federal government and the state, is to counter the opinions raised in the petition filed by Jacob Priel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, represented by advocate Prasant Boushan. He said he did not create “material”. Vaccinated individuals can spread the virus as much as unvaccinated individuals.

“In light of this, the restrictions placed on unvaccinated individuals imposed by various vaccination obligations by the state government and the Union Territory are not said to be proportional,” said Judge Lao. ..

Therefore, the court will do everything, including private organizations and educational institutions, until infection rates remain low, or until new developments or studies justify imposing “reasonable proportional limits on unvaccinated individuals.” Authorities have “suggested” to consider the restrictions. for now.

Bench said, “Our proposal to consider vaccine obligations imposed by state / Union territory in the context of the rapidly evolving situation presented by the pandemic is relevant only to the current situation. It should not be interpreted as legitimate interference. ” Exercise of authority by executives to take appropriate measures against the spread of the infection. “

The ruling is the result of Dr. Priel’s challenge that certain vaccination obligations notified by the state violate citizens’ rights and are unconstitutional, including those that make vaccination a prerequisite for access to benefits and services. was.

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