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Before the Supreme Court today, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, arguing against vaccine mandates by the States, submitted that despite almost all the judges of the Supreme Court having been vaccinated, some still got infected with COVID-19. He said the same is the case with people.
Bhushan commenced his arguments before the bench comprising Justices L.Nageshwar Rao and BR Gavai by stating that hospitalization has increased in countries where the population is vaccinated. He argued that vaccine is a matter of a person’s choice and it is the individual's decision whether to take medication or not.
Bhushan said, “I have not taken the vaccination as I think it will cause more harm than good.”
He further argued that though vaccines can prevent serious illness, it cannot be made mandatory. He cited the examples of the UK and New Zealand where vaccine mandates were struck down by the courts.
He said “Unvaccinated people do not pose an increased threat when compared to vaccinated individuals.” Bhushan argued that vaccine mandates cannot deter people from accessing essential goods, services, and government welfare schemes. He further submitted that a person who has suffered from the infection has better antibodies to fight the virus.
Bhushan contended that vaccines can lower the immunity and there have been breakthrough cases of Covid infections in countries such as Israel where the rate of vaccination is very high. He said, “It is not that the vaccines are harmless or benign, they have adverse effects.”
Bhushan further submitted that the Brazil regulator has refused approval to Bharat Biotech’s 'Covaxin' and that many countries have been following adverse effects of vaccination. It was also alleged by Bhushan that the Indian Government has not recorded adverse effects of vaccination and that informed consent can only be given if data pertaining to the vaccine is given to the public.
Referring to 'Covaxin', Bhushan submitted that phase 3 trials were not published, however, the government started claiming that they are effective. He said “Trials are by companies who have vested interest. They conceal data.”
He further submitted that the information presented on Covishield is based on studies done by AstraZeneca overseas.
Bhushan said, “It is unethical and irresponsible to use such vaccines on children.” He asserted that children hardly get affected by Covid virus and that chances of children dying due to vaccination are more than the chances of them dying with the Covid infections.
Bhushan further argued that many RTI requests were made for trial data, however, the Pharma companies are opposed to giving them. Bhushan claimed that a person has the right to weigh the cost and benefits of vaccines before taking them and nobody can be forced to get vaccinated.
Bhushan argued that the right to life and personal liberty cannot be hampered with when there is no reasonable connection between vaccination and livelihood. He argued that some States claim to be empowered under law to impose such restrictions he submitted that such restrictions however cannot be imposed at the cost of fundamental rights.
Furthermore, Bhushan submitted that in States like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh strict vaccine mandates were put out that denied people of their fundamental rights.
Bhushan concluded by noting that he prays for three reliefs 1) On how the compulsory vaccine mandate is unconstitutional, 2) Disclosure of trial data, and 3) revamping adverse event reporting system.
Bhushan was arguing a PIL filed seeking disclosure of data related to vaccine trials and restraining coercive action against those not taking vaccines. When the matter came up in November SG Tushar Mehta made it clear that any attempt by a group with a vested interest which will result in vaccine hesitancy may be avoided.
Case title: Jacob Puliyel Vs Union of India
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