The Supreme Court of India issued a statement on Monday regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The court said that the vaccination isn’t mandatory for anyone and must be a wilful exercise. Government cannot force anyone to opt for vaccination and they must inform the public about the same.
The Supreme Court of India also asked the government to lift the restriction on unvaccinated people from visiting public places. As long as new cases are in control, there doesn’t need to be restrictions on accessing a public place.
Why did the Supreme Court release this statement?
Dr. Jacob Puliyel, who is a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group, filed a petition in the Supreme Court. The petition asked to make the clinical trial data of Covid vaccines public and to remove the imposition of getting the lifesaving jab.
According to Dr. Jacob Puliyel’s petition, it was unconstitutional to issue a mandatory vaccination policy. Moreover, he wanted to know the clinical trial data of all the COVID-19 vaccines given to people.
As per a report by The Print, Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai said, “Considering bodily autonomy, bodily integrity is protected under article 21. No one can be forced to get vaccinated. (But) the government can regulate in areas of bodily autonomy. Till numbers are low, we suggest that relevant orders are followed and no restriction is imposed on individuals on access to public areas or recall the same if already not done.”
What does it mean?
The Supreme Court’s statement means that vaccination is no longer mandatory and should be so in the future. Article 21 protects bodily integrity which safeguards a citizen from unwillingly getting the vaccination.
However, the government can pass on regulations in some areas on bodily autonomy. But it is a sigh of relief for people who were unsure about getting the vaccine. India faced three disastrous waves of COVID-19 and vaccine demand grew to an all-time high.
While many were eager to get two doses of the life-saving medicine, others questioned its viability and clinical trials. However, the government made it mandatory to get the vaccine and even offered a nationwide free vaccination program.
The Supreme Court’s statement will force the vaccine companies to release the data of all the clinical trials conducted so far. Moreover, every citizen will be able to access any public place even if they haven’t opted for vaccination. The news may bring respite to many people who faced the wrath of government and law enforcement bodies and ended up paying hefty fines.