The Calcutta High Court has dismissed the plea of a Christian teacher against compulsory Covid-19 vaccine alleging it was experimented on foetuses.

The Bench of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya was hearing the plea of the teacher who worked as an Assistant Teacher in St. James School, Kolkata, and prayed for a declaration that the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine is not mandatory when it conflicts with a person's personal religious beliefs.

Advocate Subir Sanyal appeared for the Writ Petitioner, ASG Dhiraj Trivedi appeared for Respondents 1 and 2, and Advocate Bhaskar Prasad Vaisya appeared for the State.

The Petitioner had objected to getting vaccinated through Covishield manufactured by AstraZeneca on the ground that clinical trials showed that the vaccine was experimented with feotuses which according to him was against Christian beliefs.

Further, it was also argued by the Petitioner that the Covishield vaccine has hence become tainted and cannot be forced on a devout, practicing Christian.

The petitioner informed the Court that he was denied entry into the school as he refused to get himself vaccinated due to which he was deprived of his salary and was not permitted to teach in the school.

The Respondent-School challenged the maintainability of the Petition before the Court. It was submitted that the Petition against the School cannot be maintained as it is a private unaided school.

While the Petitioner contended that the school performs a public function in imparting education to students, and would hence come within the purview of Article 226.

The Court while dealing with the aspect of maintainability of the Petition noted that imparting education simpliciter is not sufficient for bringing all unaided and minority private schools and colleges under the cover of Article 226.

The Bench further while adjudicating upon the issue of allowing the Petitioner to enter the school premises held that the school notice requiring teachers and staff to submit their vaccine certificate to the school does not impinge upon the personal liberty of the Petitioner or his right to profess and practice any religion of his choice.

Additionally, the Bench held, "There is a total absence of confirmed medical data before the Court for forming an opinion that the Covishield vaccine has been developed through trials which offend the Christian faith. It would also not be out of place to point out that a writ court is not vested with the jurisdiction or the expertise to assess a large body of scientific evidence – even if produced – to draw a conclusion on the alleged un-Christian trials for developing a vaccine."

The Court further held that the most important consideration is the Petitioner's right to remain unvaccinated must be balanced with the right of the children and other teachers and staff of the School to be protected against the Covid-19 pandemic and thus observed –

"The risk of exposure of the children and staff of the School to an un-vaccinated teacher cannot be ruled out. The petitioner's argument in attaching a public element to education for maintaining the writ petition while projecting his individual right to teach students without being vaccinated is indeed dichotomous."

The Court thus held that the question of maintainability of the Petition is answered against the Petitioner and held that the Petition against a private unaided institution/ School is not maintainable since the right sought to be enforced is pure of a private contractual character.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Petition.

CauseTitle – Dr. Nirjhar Bar v. Union of India & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Judgment