20 Sep 2021 5:39 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a writ petition filed by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights raising the issue of COVID vaccination for pregnant and lactating women.Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the DCPCR(which is a statutory body), informed a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna that after the petition was filed in May this year,...
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a writ petition filed by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights raising the issue of COVID vaccination for pregnant and lactating women.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the DCPCR(which is a statutory body), informed a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna that after the petition was filed in May this year, the Union of India has issued operational guidelines for vaccination for pregnant and lactating women. Grover however submitted that some concerns remain unaddressed.
"Since we're dealing with a virus that we don't know about, there is a need to conduct scientific research to see what are the effects on the pregnant & lactating women. Further there is a need to create registry for ensuring continuous monitoring", Grover submitted.
In the light of the concerns raised by DCPCR, the bench issued notice on the petition, and sought the assistance of the Solicitor General of India regarding the operational guidelines. The petition will be listed after 2 weeks.
"The petition under Article 32 has been instituted by DCPCR. Ms Grover for DCPCR submits that petition was instituted in May 2021 during 2nd CoVID wave & subsequently operational guidelines have been framed by the Union of India for pregnant & lactating mothers.
Nonetheless the petitioner has some concern which can be appropriately taken care of by the government. Issue notice to the Union of India. The Learned Solicitor General is required to assist the court on the policy which has been formulated & applicable guidelines that are to be framed", the bench noted in the order.
"Right to health is recognised as a part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The State has a constitutional obligation towards protecting the health of women and children, and particularly pregnant women and lactating mothers, as this directly impinges on the health and well being of the new born child. Vaccination will advance this objective of promoting health as it will boost the immunity and provide resistance against this pandemic and therefore no class of persons should be excluded on arbitrary grounds," the petition stated.
Filed through Advocate on Record Prateek Chadha, the petition had also sought directions for developing education material and Standard Operating Protocols to educate women on the side effects of vaccination, effects of vaccination on pregnant and lactating mothers and ensure taking informed consent before taking the vaccine.
Relief for creation of a registry to register pregnant women and lactating mothers being vaccinated to ensure existence of a continuous monitoring mechanism to see if the vaccine has an adverse effect on pregnant women was also sought for.
Petition filed by DCPCR had also sought for setting up of separate vaccination centres for pregnant women and lactating mothers to protect them from infection as they are a high risk category and engaging Anganwadi Centres and Asha Workers for vaccination drive to reach out to pregnant women and lactating mothers from low socio-economic backgrounds
"The Covid-19 pandemic poses a dynamic threat, and medical experts have altered and evolved their opinion as new evidence has emerged from research and studies. In light of the overwhelming medical and expert advice calling for vaccination of pregnant and lactating women, as documented by FOGSI and revealed in consultations, the Respondent's advisory dated 14 January 2021 is no longer medically valid or constitutionally sustainable. The exclusion of pregnant and lactating women from vaccination now falls foul of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution, as it constitutes unreasonable classification and is thus an arbitrary and discriminatory advisory which by denying vaccination to a class of women violates their right to life. This further threatens the life of newborn children and reproductive health of women, whose health is likely to be compromised due to the Respondent's impugned advisory," petition also stated.
In addition to this, the petition had also sought for making an option on CoWin Portal to enable pregnant women and lactating mothers to classify/identify themselves as PW /LM and be prioritized while providing slots for vaccination.
Case Title: Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights v Union of India
Click Here To Read/ Download Order