A Fundamental Rights Application was filed before the Supreme Court by Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, Ranjit Seneviratne and Hiran Fernando against Keheliya Rambukwella – the Minister of Health, the NMRA, the Director General of Health Services. The primary concern is that children are a target for indiscriminate vaccination in the absence of proper data, inasmuch as all Covid-19 vaccines have only received Emergency Use Authorisation and without the rigours of full clinical trials the vaccines have not been adequately tested for safety or efficacy, especially in children. Moreover, clinical trial data has also not been disclosed to the public for an informed choice to be made.
The Petitioners also urge that vaccine mandates are repugnant to bodily autonomy and the right to self-determine what may or may not be injected. Voluntary consent, being consent that is meaningful, valid and informed, is essential.
The DGHS in his Affidavit to the Supreme Court submits that the vaccination program of the State is not mandatory and that the vaccine has been administered whilst preserving the autonomy and right to self-determine the acceptance of vaccines. He further submitted that the Ministry of Health has not issued any law, regulation or communication mandating vaccination.
The Petitioners in their Counter Objection have submitted that the Minister of Health was reported in the press as saying that receiving two doses of the vaccine will be mandatory from the next year and that there is no barrier to making the vaccination certificate mandatory when visiting public places. The Petitioners also highlight that the Pfizer trials were not carried out on South Asian populations living in South Asia with no evidence of vaccine trials done in Asia.
When the matter was taken up before the Supreme Court comprising of Thurairajah PC J., Shiran Gooneratne J. and Wengappuli J., on December 15, 2021 the Court inquired from the Attorney General as to the final authority in whom the responsibility for vaccinations rest. Viveka Siriwardene PC. ASG, representing the Respondents informed the Supreme Court that the DGHS is in charge of the entire vaccination programme and will be answerable for all activities of the Government.
The Court also observed that the DGHS’ Affidavit stated that vaccination will not be mandatory. The Court also went on to observe and request that to avoid confusion it is preferable for the DGHS to make all communications on behalf of the State and that any person making statement or communique without the approval of the DGHS will be responsible for same. The Court also recorded that for purpose of clarification it has clarified that the vaccination is not mandatory.
The case will now be taken up on 11.01.2022. Dr. K. Kanag-Isvaran PC with Nigel Bartholomeusz, Dilshani Wijayawardana and Laskhmanan Jeyakumar instructed by Moahan Balendra appeared for the Petitioners. Viveka Siriwardana PC, ASG, with Shiloma David, SC, appeared for the Minister of Health, DGHS, NMRA and the AG.