Punjab Govt Issues Vaccine Diktat, Violates Bodily Integrity Law

Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh
Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh

Amarinder Singh and the Punjab Government are not supposed to impose the vaccine diktat on the people of the state.

By Rakesh Raman

The Punjab Government in India has decided to punish the government employees who have not been vaccinated. In a strongly worded directive issued today (September 10), the government asserted that the employees failing to take even the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine for any reason other than medical will be compulsorily sent on leave after September 15.

“This strong measure was announced on Friday (September 10) by Chief Minister (CM) Captain Amarinder Singh to protect the people of the state from the disease, and to ensure that those who are vaccinated do not have to pay the price for continued vaccine hesitancy of those who are not,” the government said in its statement.

In a virtual Covid review meeting, the Chief Minister said vaccine effectiveness is evident from the data being analysed. “Special efforts were taken to reach out to government employees, and those who continue to avoid getting vaccinated will now be asked to go on leave till they get the first dose,” he said.

But Amarinder Singh and the Punjab Government are not supposed to impose the vaccine diktat on the people of the state, particularly because there are many doubts about the efficacy and genuineness of vaccines in India. And the imposition of vaccine mandates violates the bodily integrity of the people who are being forced to take vaccines.

Bodily integrity means the inviolability of the physical body and it allows personal autonomy, self-ownership, and self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. The violation of the bodily integrity of another person is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and a possible criminal act, and therefore it amounts to human rights violation.

Thus, according to bodily integrity rules, it is an offence to force people to accept Covid-19 tests and vaccines. The authorities are supposed to take an explicit consent from the people before giving them Covid-19 tests or vaccines. 

According to the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom (UK), consent to treatment means a person must give permission before they receive any type of medical treatment, test, or examination. This must be done on the basis of an explanation by a clinician.

Consent from a patient is needed regardless of the procedure, whether it’s a physical examination, organ donation, or something else. The NHS says that the principle of consent is an important part of medical ethics and international human rights law.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) states that bodily autonomy (or bodily integrity) is about the right to make decisions over one’s own life and future. It is about being empowered to make informed choices. These are universal values. Governments everywhere have committed, in a variety of international agreements, to protecting autonomy. Respect for bodily autonomy is a core tenet of international medical ethics.

UNFPA advises that we must not overlook the incredible efforts to secure bodily autonomy being led by advocates all over the world. Not only is bodily autonomy a human right, it is the foundation upon which other human rights are built.

The bodily autonomy right is also covered under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which is inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is a fundamental right guaranteed to every person residing in India. Article 21 secures citizens’ right to life and personal liberty. As Article 21 is believed to be the backbone of human life, it cannot be suspended even during proclamation of emergency. 

NEED TO PROTECT BODILY INTEGRITY

The need to protect bodily integrity is crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic because of limited or misleading information available about the nature of the virus and its treatment. It is extremely important to allow people to decide whether or not they want to get vaccinated because there are increasing concerns about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.

Last month (August 2021), the Supreme Court of India had issued a notice to the Indian government to file its response on a petition seeking transparency of Covid-19 vaccine data. The petition filed by Jacob Pulayil has sought information on the clinical trials conducted for Covid-19 vaccines while there are serious doubts about the efficacy of Covid vaccines.

As a journalist and social activist, I (Rakesh Raman) had also filed a petition before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India in June to get the fundamental human right of bodily autonomy (or bodily integrity) of the people of India protected as the Government of India and state governments are carrying out Covid-19 tests and vaccination drives. 

But the NHRC sent me a vague, off-the-cuff response and did not allow me to discuss the issue further. NHRC and various courts in India lack domain expertise to handle cases related to specialized fields such as coronavirus and bodily integrity. Therefore, there is no protection for the citizens of India from the coercive actions of the rulers such as Punjab CM Amarinder Singh who is clueless about Covid-19 issues.

As vaccine mandates continue to be used to coerce healthy and Covid-recovered people to take vaccines, America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) has taken the fight over medical privacy and freedom to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

The organization has announced the filing of a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus in a case involving the University of California system, which AFLDS claims is violating the rights of students, particularly those who have natural immunity, by forcing them to take the Covid vaccine. AFLDS argues that college-age students without comorbidities have a statistical 100% survival rate for Covid-19, even if left untreated.

Moreover, AFLDS has decried the FDA’s “unprecedented and grossly negligent approval of the Pfizer Covid vaccine, years before completion of their phase three trials.” AFLDS said in a statement released on August 23 that the vaccine was authorized for a variant of the virus that has faded from circulation. The current vaccine is known to be an ineffective and “leaky” vaccine (defined as a vaccine that produces stronger variants once in circulation) against the current variant.  

Although the Indian politicians like Punjab CM Amarinder Singh can study and learn about the repercussions of vaccines, most of them are so naive that they fail to understand any topic that needs the application of intellect. Result: Misery for Indians.

Meanwhile, according to the Financial Times Covid-19 vaccine tracker, as of September 9 India has fully vaccinated only 12.5% of its population.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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