Jacob Puliyel v. Union of India AIR 2022

APPELLANT – Jacob Puliyel

RESPONDENT – Union of India & Ors.

BENCH – L Nageswara and Mr. B.R. Gavai

Citation no. – WP(C) 607 OF 2021

Judgment Date – 2nd May 2022

Facts of the case

Mr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Advisory Technical Group. He filed the public interest litigation before the Hon’ble supreme court. He asked to disclose the data related to trials of the vaccines and also mentioned that compelling vaccination to the citizens is unfair and unconstitutional 

  • Adverse consequences of emergency approval of vaccines in India.
  • The need for transparency in publishing segregated clinical trial data of vaccines.the need for disclosure of clinical data.
  • lack of transparency in regulatory approvals.
  • Minutes and constitution of the expert bodies.
  • Imperfect evaluation of Adverse Events Following Immunization (“AEFIs”); and,
  • Vaccine mandates in the absence of informed consent being unconstitutional.

It was inter-alia contended that coercive vaccination would result in interfering with the principle of informed choice of individuals, protected by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

ISSUED RAISED

  • Are the vaccination requirements in violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution?
  • Does the public have access to the separate clinical trial data?
  • Were Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFIs) improperly collected and reported?
  • Whether immunisation is safe for children?

CONTENTIONS

Petitioner:

Maintainability: Raises concerns that the executive’s decisions on vaccinations could infringe on fundamental rights and should be open to judicial review.

Judicial Review: Argues that the Court must review executive policies, especially if they appear arbitrary or unreasonable.

Vaccine Mandates: Contends that mandates are coercive and violate the right to life, claiming vaccines are ineffective against variants and can be transmitted by anyone.

Clinical Trial Data: Demands public access to COVAXIN and COVISHIELD trial data to evaluate adverse effects.

AEFI Reporting: Claims the government’s system for reporting adverse events is inadequate, leading to underreporting.

Vaccination of Children: Opposes child vaccination, citing risks and existing immunity, challenging the need and safety of vaccinating children.

Respondent (UOI):

Maintainability: Decisions on vaccinations are for domain experts and should not be subject to judicial review to avoid increasing vaccine hesitancy.

Judicial Review: The Court should respect executive decisions informed by expert opinion, especially in sensitive public health matters like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaccine Mandates: Vaccines are safe and effective; discussions otherwise could exacerbate vaccine hesitancy. Emergency authorizations and trials are conducted within the legal framework and revised as needed.

Clinical Trial Data: Emergency use of vaccines was approved following due process and expert consultation; hence, detailed clinical trial data is not disclosed publicly.

AEFI Reporting: The government follows strict guidelines for monitoring adverse events, with the COWIN portal enabling comprehensive reporting. Expert review is required to establish any causal link to vaccines.

Vaccination of Children: Defends child vaccination citing global health endorsements and safety data, with the Court aligning with this view and international consensus.

RATIONALE

The court found that no one can be forced to receive immunisations by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

The court said that the state has the prerogative to limit basic freedoms for public welfare, provided such measures are justified, non-arbitrary, and balanced. 

The court upheld that while individuals have the right to decline medical interventions under Article 21, this right is not absolute and may be curtailed for communal health reasons.

 The dismissal of the plea was based on the finding that the imposed constraints were reasonable. Additionally, the authorities were instructed to disclose pertinent data to enable informed choices and were found to be adequately documenting adverse reactions. 

The court deferred to scientific consensus regarding child vaccinations, acknowledging its lack of jurisdiction in this scientific domain.

PROVISION USED DISCUSS

In this case article 21 right to life is discuss which talks about state can not abridges the right of individual which is mentioned in article 21 But there exception that if the due process of law or if it public interest.

INFERENCE

It is important to note here that the Court did give a particularly detailed observation regarding personal autonomy and has re-established that personal autonomy should be respected, and any mandate to the contrary, must be reasoned and proportional. This case re-emphasises the prevailing judicial position that any arbitrary breach into personal autonomy will be deemed unconstitutional and to that extent executive decisions will be open to judicial review – even if the same is made about matters of crucial public concern. That said, it must be noted that while making the observations, the court kept in mind the past and present situations. As for the future, the court gave suggestions to the government, rather than directives.

Submitted By: Aryan Raghav 

Asian Law College Noida 

Jacob Puliyel v. Union of India AIR 2022Case Comments

APPELLANT – Jacob Puliyel

RESPONDENT – Union of India & Ors.

BENCH – L Nageswara and Mr. B.R. Gavai

Citation no. – WP(C) 607 OF 2021

Judgment Date – 2nd May 2022

Facts of the case

Mr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Advisory Technical Group. He filed the public interest litigation before the Hon’ble supreme court. He asked to disclose the data related to trials of the vaccines and also mentioned that compelling vaccination to the citizens is unfair and unconstitutional 

  • Adverse consequences of emergency approval of vaccines in India.
  • The need for transparency in publishing segregated clinical trial data of vaccines.the need for disclosure of clinical data.
  • lack of transparency in regulatory approvals.
  • Minutes and constitution of the expert bodies.
  • Imperfect evaluation of Adverse Events Following Immunization (“AEFIs”); and,
  • Vaccine mandates in the absence of informed consent being unconstitutional.

It was inter-alia contended that coercive vaccination would result in interfering with the principle of informed choice of individuals, protected by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

ISSUED RAISED

  • Are the vaccination requirements in violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution?
  • Does the public have access to the separate clinical trial data?
  • Were Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFIs) improperly collected and reported?
  • Whether immunisation is safe for children?

CONTENTIONS

Petitioner:

Maintainability: Raises concerns that the executive’s decisions on vaccinations could infringe on fundamental rights and should be open to judicial review.

Judicial Review: Argues that the Court must review executive policies, especially if they appear arbitrary or unreasonable.

Vaccine Mandates: Contends that mandates are coercive and violate the right to life, claiming vaccines are ineffective against variants and can be transmitted by anyone.

Clinical Trial Data: Demands public access to COVAXIN and COVISHIELD trial data to evaluate adverse effects.

AEFI Reporting: Claims the government’s system for reporting adverse events is inadequate, leading to underreporting.

Vaccination of Children: Opposes child vaccination, citing risks and existing immunity, challenging the need and safety of vaccinating children.

Respondent (UOI):

Maintainability: Decisions on vaccinations are for domain experts and should not be subject to judicial review to avoid increasing vaccine hesitancy.

Judicial Review: The Court should respect executive decisions informed by expert opinion, especially in sensitive public health matters like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaccine Mandates: Vaccines are safe and effective; discussions otherwise could exacerbate vaccine hesitancy. Emergency authorizations and trials are conducted within the legal framework and revised as needed.

Clinical Trial Data: Emergency use of vaccines was approved following due process and expert consultation; hence, detailed clinical trial data is not disclosed publicly.

AEFI Reporting: The government follows strict guidelines for monitoring adverse events, with the COWIN portal enabling comprehensive reporting. Expert review is required to establish any causal link to vaccines.

Vaccination of Children: Defends child vaccination citing global health endorsements and safety data, with the Court aligning with this view and international consensus.

RATIONALE

The court found that no one can be forced to receive immunisations by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

The court said that the state has the prerogative to limit basic freedoms for public welfare, provided such measures are justified, non-arbitrary, and balanced. 

The court upheld that while individuals have the right to decline medical interventions under Article 21, this right is not absolute and may be curtailed for communal health reasons.

 The dismissal of the plea was based on the finding that the imposed constraints were reasonable. Additionally, the authorities were instructed to disclose pertinent data to enable informed choices and were found to be adequately documenting adverse reactions. 

The court deferred to scientific consensus regarding child vaccinations, acknowledging its lack of jurisdiction in this scientific domain.

PROVISION USED DISCUSS

In this case article 21 right to life is discuss which talks about state can not abridges the right of individual which is mentioned in article 21 But there exception that if the due process of law or if it public interest.

INFERENCE

It is important to note here that the Court did give a particularly detailed observation regarding personal autonomy and has re-established that personal autonomy should be respected, and any mandate to the contrary, must be reasoned and proportional. This case re-emphasises the prevailing judicial position that any arbitrary breach into personal autonomy will be deemed unconstitutional and to that extent executive decisions will be open to judicial review – even if the same is made about matters of crucial public concern. That said, it must be noted that while making the observations, the court kept in mind the past and present situations. As for the future, the court gave suggestions to the government, rather than directives.

Submitted By: Aryan Raghav 

Asian Law College Noida