Legality of Mandatory Vaccination In India In Light Of COVID-19

Must Read

Implications in Travel Insurance in Light of the COVID-19 Crisis

As the world, today is crippled by this once in a century pandemic and as of date more than...

Second-Round Effects of Rent Control Laws: The Argentine Case

Introduction In colonial India, a city had an issue with its cobra population, which was a problem clearly in need...

Why Are the Big Techs of Silicon Valley Accused of Anti-Competitive Behaviours?

The big tech giants of the Silicon Valley are facing major challenges with relation to their monopolistic powers after...

KSK announces Sanjay Kumar as a Partner for Pharma & Life Sciences Practice

New Partner for KSK's Pharma & Life Sciences Practice King Stubb & Kasiva recently announced that Mr Sanjay Kumar has...

The Debate Between IPR and Competition Law Explained

There are various market processes or structures that govern market scenario. For simplicity, this paper focuses on two mechanisms:...

The Competition Law Regime and Re-Tooling Patent Pools In India

The adversity to acquire licenses of various patented technologies can thwart the commercialization as well as the development of...

Follow us

“Personally, I am opposed to vaccination, and I would not want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel” – Novak Djokovic.

This is the personal choice of the athlete, but while the world is going through a pandemic together, it begs the question whether personal choices will let to prevail over the good of the public, and health.


Importance of vaccination and immunization drives for a healthy population perceived as a significant role in public health policy. After all, it is a necessity in a country’s public health due to its effectiveness as a cheap and preventive measure to achieve the same.

India has done excellent work with its immunization schemes and especially seen while eradicating diseases and epidemics like polio and smallpox. But there exists an unpleasant side to the same. It gets highlighted in the form of forceful vaccination, deteriorating results, lack of accountability amongst others. A lot of legal and ethical issues get entwined. Some of the basic fundamental practices of freedom of religions also get affected.

The article will attempt to cover some of the most prominent issues, international comparison to understand global interpretations on this as well as the necessary steps in the wake of a pandemic – COVID 19.

Issue through the decades

Vaccination, especially nationwide programs, face many impediments. They are a mix and match of some of the reasons listed below:

– The roots trace back deep, in the colonial history of India. Started with the enactment of The Compulsory Vaccination Act 1882, which was to curb the epidemic of smallpox prevalent at the time. The absence of due implementation of the Act led to steep distrust in the Government, and their policies.

– The reach of the Indian healthcare system is not thorough. It is in particular deficit in remote and tribal areas. It is a significant cause of the residents not accepting vaccinations.

– Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) is a requisite for successful immunization programs. India Government-run has an inferior AEFI surveillance system.

– The steep decline in the trusting of Government-run schemes of vaccination narrow down to:

a) Lack of engagement, accuracy and transparency of data by the Government bodies. A prime example of the same appears in the report of Tribal Health.

b) The non-existence of an accountability mechanism.

– Arguments about vaccination infringing upon a person’s right to privacy and subject to religious freedom are recent. These are subject to exceptions broken down in the later section of the article.

Perspective in modern India

Central Governments, as well as State Governments, have a massive responsibility towards public health and safety. This finds a place in the Constitution of India. Furthermore, provisions of Directive Principles and State Lists ensure and keep the authority on toes to stand by the welfare of the people. 

When a comparison from DPSPs view and mandatory vaccination formulates, the State may justify its actions. However, there is a new contradiction which can appear in the same scenario. It is that the State has the duty to provide the resources and facility of clean, safe drinking water, air, environment etc.

So if the latter is not provided, the need for vaccination increases. Mandating vaccination, an intrusion of a person’s body/ immunity to cover up a lack of efficiency in the State’s primary functions and roles is not fair. This definitely provides an interesting perspective to view the issue.

To ensure practical applications for the same, in the context of vaccines, Central legislations formed:

i. The Vaccination Act, 1880

ii. The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

These provide much-needed guidance in this sphere.

Contemporary issues keep evolving, which often create a need for changes in legislation so that they adapt according to the times. Moreover, with more robust protection of fundamental rights, classification of privacy as a fundamental right, a lot more angles appear for interpretation. It here becomes necessary to point how it has been held in K.S Puttaswamy v Union of India that “the right to privacy is not an absolute right and curtailed as long as the procedure is fair, just and reasonable and as long as the proportional restrictions further a legitimate state aim.” The interpretation of the same can be claimed to enforce mandatory vaccination.However, as discussed, the prevalent issues create an impediment in the balancing of the constitutional leeway and the public social benefit.

International Comparison: U.S.A

According to the US Constitution; the 14th Amendment asserts that no state shall make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States or deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law.

In 1905, Jacobson v. Massachusetts resulted in a landmark decision which became a substantive source to establish the constitutionality of enforcing vaccine mandates as well as provide for exemptions. This does vary from State to State in the USA.

Anti-Vaccination League of America founded (3 years after Jacobson v. Massachusetts) promoting the principle that “health is nature’s greatest safeguard against disease and that thus no State has the right to demand of anyone the impairment of his or her health”. However, the rest (most of them) believe in protecting public health, especially with the threat of pandemics.

Almost all states grant religious exemptions. Nevertheless, it is necessary to note that in compelling cases, the State may abridge religious freedom. Pandemics sure can find a way in this justification.

What should India’s take be in the COVID-19 scenario?

India has been prosperous in eradicating an epidemic before – smallpox. It can do so again with apparent improvements in policy implementation, engagement and accountability.

Mandatory vaccination has its roots and purpose based on public interest. In a pandemic like the situation, it becomes essential to understand that exercise of a person’s liberty cannot overpower the more significant benefit or the obligation of public health.

If India opts for mandatory vaccination, steps required will be:

1. Primarily address fundamental rights and within them the constitutional leeway for situations like these:

a. Right to privacy: As discussed, it is not an absolute right. Proportional restrictions by the State are allowed.

b. Right to religious freedom: It is subject to restrictions in relation to public order, morality, and health.

2. Availability of free and equal accessibility of vaccines. Prime focus on rural and marginalized communities.

3. Compliance and substantiation from the provisions of the National Disaster Management Act of 2005. The range of powers as provided in Sections 6-10 and Sec. 62 of the Act are enough to make it possible for the respective authority to mandate vaccination.

4. Impose vaccination of COVID 19 as a requirement for entering the country (referring International travel).

5. Impose high measures in cases of non-compliance with the necessity of a mandated vaccine. 

For example: refusing the issuance of passports. It finds justification on the grounds of India trying to maintain healthy/friendly relations with other nations.


Critical understanding and evaluation of ‘mandatory vaccination’ is a need. Due care and maintaining a balance between imposing a mandatory scheme and fundamental rights of a person needs research. Thus, there has to be transparency of data. A lot more engagement of the public authorities with the public, focusing on the rural and the marginalized communities.

Lessons from the documented issues of the system need consideration and action. A healthier, inclusive plan and its incorporation need looking into. Encouraging criticism and the public’s involvement is essential. Therefore, this will help reduce the hesitancy and also build trust levels.

It is of prime essence that a strict and well-regulated and monitored accountability mechanism in place. In addition to that, lack of this will not only receive harsh criticism but also not achieve the desired result. 

Hence, strengthening surveillance system and ensuring highest standards of vaccination approval is a must for implementation of a legally valid mandatory vaccination policy.

“Conflicts between human rights and human health are inevitable, and it is important to understand that trade-offs between rights and health may be necessary.” is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgements from the court. Follow us on Google News, InstagramLinkedInFacebook & Twitter. You can also subscribe for our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest News

NGT Red-Flags Kaleshwaram Project: Green Clearance Violated the Law, Halt Work

Excerpt The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Principal Bench, dated 20th October 2020, directed the Telangana government to stop all work, except the drinking water component...

There Can Be No Leniency Shown To Appellant Who Pleaded To Reduce Sentence: Delhi High Court

Facts On 25.2.2016 the victim’s sister who was 13 years old was present with her sister who was 2 years old (victim) at their home....

Violation of Executive Instructions Cannot Be Sole Ground to Invalidate Transfer Orders: Tripura High Court

In Dr Bithika Choudhury vs the State of Tripura & Ors., a Division Bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice S. Talapatra and Hon’ble Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay...

Case Regarding Anticipatory Bail, Applicant May Be Released Imposing Suitable Conditions: Gujarat High Court

A Single-Judge Bench of Gujarat High Court consisting of Honourable Dr Justice A.P. Thakur had been hearing submissions of the Applicant to release him...

Proof of Infliction of Fatal Injury Not Mandatory for Conviction Under Section 307, IPC: Tripura High Court

In the case of Mamin Miah vs the State of Tripura, a Division Bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice S. Talapatra and Hon’ble Justice S....

Bombay High Court Pursues Case Alleging Media Trial, Says NBSA Guidelines Must Be Toothed by Centre

Amid the pleas alleging media trials, the Division Bench had been hearing submissions of the News Broadcasters’ Authority (NBA). It prayed that severe restrictions...

Himachal Pradesh High Court Supports Promotion Based on Seniority of Post Rather Based on the Eligibility Test

In the case of Ramesh Chand Versus State of Himachal Pradesh & Others, the petitioner, reached the court as he was aggrieved by the...

NCDRC Dismisses PIL against Urologist, Holy Family Hospital, Says Mode Of Treatment Or Skill Differs From Doctor To Doctor

The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) dismissed a petition against Holy Family Hospital and a Urologist, alleging negligence in diagnosing the septicemia and...

Himachal Pradesh High Court Disposes Suit for Possession and Permanent Prohibitory Injunction Due To Mutual Consent

In the case of Parveen Kumar vs Smt. Vijay Laxmi and Ors, the Petitioner, Parveen had filed a suit for declaration, possession and a permanent prohibitory...

Supreme Court Appoints Committee To Examine Arbitrariness of Sealing of Resorts in Elephant Corridor, Tamil Nadu

A Full Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, in the matter of Hospitality Association of Mudumalai V. In Defence of Environment and Animals...

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -