The Supreme Court on Monday while saying that bodily autonomy and integrity are constitutional rights and no individual can be forced to get vaccinated against COVID also affirmed the Central government's COVID-19 vaccination policy.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai also held that the vaccine mandates imposed by various state governments and other authorities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic are "not proportionate".
Saying that restrictions on unvaccinated individuals in relation to public places and access to resources are unreasonable, the bench suggested the states remove such restrictions.
The bench said it is satisfied that the current vaccine policy cannot be said to be unreasonable and manifestly arbitrary.
It further held that no substantial data has been produced on record by the Centre to show that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 virus from the unvaccinated persons is higher than from the vaccinated persons.
The top court also directed the Centre to make public the data on the adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccination.
On COVID-19 vaccination for children, the apex court said that it is not possible for it to second guess the opinion of experts and the vaccination indeed follows the global standards and practices.
The judgement of the apex court came on a PIL filed by Dr Jacob Puliyel alleging coercive vaccination of citizens and seeking disclosure of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial data and post-vaccination data.
It sought public disclosure of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial data and post-vaccination data, claiming that it is mandatory and required that the government must publish the data as per the international medical norms.
Dr Puliyel had also sought a stay on the COVID-19 vaccine mandates that are being issued by authorities in various parts of the country.
He had also said that the Helsinki and World Health Organization (WHO) mandated that all COVID-19 vaccine data and trials be made in a transparent manner, which, in this case, was not made.
The plea sought direction to the Centre to disclose the reasoned decision of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granting approval or rejecting an application for emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines and to also disclose the post-vaccination data regarding the adverse impact of vaccines -- who got infected, who needed hospitalization and those who died after such infection post-COVID-19 vaccination.