On 16 December 2022, the High Court of Calcutta heard a case filed by a Christian teacher who challenged a notice issued by his school which demanded submission of COVID-19 vaccine certificate in order to be able to work.
Lacking such certificates, the school would place teachers on leave without pay. The petitioner refused to take either of the two vaccines available: as one was tested on fetuses, thus going against his religious beliefs; the other one because he was uncertain about the experimentation phase and did not know which subjects were used during the trials. Once the school suspended him, he petitioned for disbursement of salary, claiming that the school’s notice violated Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) and Article 25 (freedom of conscience and religion) of the Indian Constitution.
The court noticed in the first place that there is absence of scientific data to conclude that vaccines were experimented in ways that were against the Christian faith; furthermore, the court was not vested with the jurisdiction for assessing the scientific evidence concerning vaccine trials.
In the second place, the court noted that the personal freedoms and the right of individuals to refuse vaccination have to be balanced with the right of pupils and school personnel to be protected against COVID-19.
Thus, the Court ruled that the vaccine mandate did not violate the right to personal liberty and the freedom of religion of the petitioner. The claim was dismissed.