Can Government Take Legal Action Against a Citizen for Refusing to Take COVID19 Vaccine? Centre Clarifies Before CIC

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India has clarified before the Central Information Commission that taking jab of COVID19 vaccine is “Voluntary”.

The Appellant filed an online RTI application seeking following informations:

  1. Copy of the MOHFW & Govt orders under which every Indian citizen can be bounced for Covid-19 vaccination.
  2. Copy of the MOHFW & Govt orders under which Central or State govt authorities can pressurize or take legal action against those individuals who denied Covid-19 Vaccination for themselves or their family members. 
  3. Copy of the list of diseases for which Vaccination compulsion rules for implemented by Indian Govt after the independence of India i.e. after 15-August-1947. 
  4. Copy of the Section of Indian constitution under which MOHFW or Central/State Govt can forcefully bound any Indian Citizen for Covid19 Vaccination without his/her will and declared offensive when denied. 
  5. Copy of the list contain name of the companies impaneled by the MOHFW and Central Govt for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing & govt supply that must contain particulars of govt order & budget allotted for them specifically.

The CPIO/Under Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare,vide letter dated14.12.2020 replied that:

Vaccination is done under the Universal Immunization Programme of Government of India. There is no information available in respect of any such orders.

Dissatisfied with the response received from the CPIO, the Appellant filed a First Appeal. In response to First Appeal, the Appellant was informed vide online reply dated 18.01.2021 that due to the Appellate Authority not being available, RTI appeal has been physically sent to concerned CPIOs of the Ministry. Aggrieved and dissatisfied, the Appellant approached the Commission with the Second Appeal.

The Government informed the Central Information Commission that Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary.

After hearing the Sri Y.K. Sinha, Information Commissioner observed that the submissions sent by the Respondent reveal that at the very beginning, the Respondent has clarified that the vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. Hence, a number of the queries raised by the Appellant based on his allegations about “forceful vaccination” or “pressurising citizens” has been rendered infructuous per se. 

However, before concluding the decision at hand, the Commission advised the Government to ensure that maximum information which serves larger public interest, is proactively disclosed, to enhance transparency and dissemination of correct information. This will also obviate the need for filing numerous RTI cases that would only burden the public authorities while they are combating one of the deadliest pandemics in recent history.

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