No individual can be forced to get vaccinated as "bodily integrity is a part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21", the Indian Supreme Court said on Monday during a hearing on the government's current policy.
The top court of the country has directed all authorities and educational institutions, including the private ones, "to review all vaccine mandates if not already recalled."
The government's current vaccine policy has been found by the court to be not "unreasonable", considering the seriousness of illness, reduction in oxygen levels, mortality rate and expert opinion, the bench said.
While the suggestion by the court is limited to the petition at hand, it will "not stop or prevent the government from taking any step in future to control the spread of the pandemic", according to the bench.
"Till numbers are low, we suggest that relevant orders are followed and no restriction is imposed on unvaccinated individuals on access to public areas or recall the same if already not done," the bench said.
Referring to vaccines for children, the court approved "the policy to vaccinate those under 18 but directed the centre to make public all clinical trials, key findings and results of vaccines" that have already been cleared.
Talking about the cases linked to adverse effects, the court has told the central government "to facilitate information of all suspected adverse effects on a virtual platform which is easily accessible to the public."
The petitioner had raised concerns over not enough data being available over the efficacy of the vaccines.
More than 189 crore vaccine doses have been given so far, according to the official data, as India eyes expanding the coverage. While the booster doses for all adults were allowed last month, the government has also cleared vaccines for children above 5 years of age.