Supreme Court to hear on Nov 29 plea seeking disclosure of data on COVID-19 vaccines' clinical trials


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday said it would hear on November 29 a plea seeking directions for disclosure of data on clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines as also on post-jab cases.

The apex court had earlier in August asked the Centre, Bharat Biotech, SII, and others to respond to the plea which sought directions to also disclose post-vaccination data regarding adverse events.

As the bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and A S Oka, which was scheduled to hear the matter, was about to rise for the day, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, mentioned the plea and urged the court to give some date for hearing.

He claimed people are losing jobs due to the coercive vaccine mandates being issued by the government if someone is not vaccinated.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta strongly opposed the submission and said the petitioner wants a mandate that vaccines should not be administered.

However, Bhushan said this is not so and he was not saying this at all.

Mehta said he needs three weeks to reply and said, “let the country go the way the country wants to go”.

“I will file my reply and need time for that,” Mehta said adding that “we don’t know whose interest he (Bhushan) is representing in this matter.”

Bhushan said three months have passed and they have not filed their reply to the petition filed by Dr.

Jacob Puliyel, who is a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and has sought directions to also disclose post-vaccination data regarding adverse events.

He had earlier maintained it is not an anti-vaccine petition and transparency on the issue was needed as disclosure of data would rather clear all the doubts and hesitancy.

Bhushan, while making clear that the petitioner was not seeking to stop the ongoing vaccination, had said the plea has also raised the issue of coercive vaccine mandates being issued like putting a certain restriction on travel if someone is not vaccinated.

The top court had issued notices to the Centre and others, including the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Bharat Biotech, and Serum Institute of India (SII), seeking their responses on the petition within four weeks.

Observing that it does not want to get into the scientific decisions taken by the experts, the apex court had said personal autonomy will have to be balanced with public health.

Bhushan had referred to reports and argued that they say vaccine hesitancy is more among those who are educated people.

He had told the bench that the government says the vaccine is voluntary but now people are coerced to take the vaccine.

“You cannot deny any service or job to anybody”, Bhushan had said while referring to vaccine mandates.

He had said there are reports and data that vaccines are not that effective against the Delta variant of the virus which is spreading in several countries.

The plea has sought directions to make public the segregated data of clinical trials for vaccines that are being administered in India under the emergency use authorisation granted by the Drugs Controller General of India.

It has also sought the apex court’s declaration that vaccine mandates, even by way of making it a pre-condition for accessing any benefits or services, is a violation of the rights of citizens and is unconstitutional.