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November 30, 2022

Govt can’t be held liable to compensate for deaths due to adverse event post administration of COVID-19 vaccines, Centre tells SC

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in Compliance Law

Govt can’t be held liable to compensate for deaths due to adverse event post administration of COVID-19 vaccines, Centre tells SC

The Center has told the Supreme Court that there is no evidence to support the state being held strictly liable for the tragic deaths of the respective children of the petitioners .  The vaccines used in the Covid vaccination programme are manufactured by third parties and are recognised as safe and effective.

The Centre also emphasised that there is no legal compulsion to get Covid-19 vaccine.

The Center’s response was given in response to a petition filed by the parents of two girls who had died as a result of side effects to the Covid vaccine.

In an affidavit, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stated that there was “no material to suggest how the state can be fastened with strict liability for the tragic death of the respective children of the petitioners,” which is what is necessary under the law to support a claim for compensation against the state under Article 32 of the Constitution.

According to the ministry, the vaccines used in the vaccination programme are manufactured by third parties, have successfully undergone regulatory review in India and other countries, and are recognised on a global level as safe and effective.

It said that, “Given these facts, it is most humbly submitted that holding the state directly liable to provide compensation under the narrow scope of strict liability for extremely rare deaths occurring due to AEFI (Adverse Events Following Immunization) from the use of vaccines may not be legally sustainable.”

The Health Ministry also stated that appropriate legal remedies, including approaching civil courts for a claim of damages or compensation for negligence, malfeasance, or misfeasance, are available to vaccine beneficiaries  or their families in the case that a person suffers physical injury or death as a result of an AEFI.

It said that while the deaths were tragic, the government could not be held liable and that such claims may be determined on a case by case basis in an appropriate court.

In the affidavit filed on November 23, the Health Ministry said that, although the government’s strong encouragement of vaccination for all eligible persons, there is no legal requirement for it.

The government’s response was in response to a petition filed by the parents of two girls who had died as a result of side effects from the Covid vaccine and who were being represented by advocate Satya Mitra.

In August , the apex court had issued notice to the centre on the parents request for an independent  committee to investigate the deaths along with the timely release of the autopsy and investigation . The petitioners also requested monetary compensation and guidelines for the prompt identification and treatment of persons suffering from adverse side-effects of Covid vaccines.

The petitioners’ legal representative claimed that the first petitioner’s 18-year-old daughter died in June 2021 after taking the first dose of Covishield in May 2021. The second petitioner’s 20-year-old daughter died in July 2021 after receiving the first dose of Covishield in June 2021.

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