A non-commissioned officer in the Indian Air Force has moved the Gujarat High Court against a show-cause notice issued to him by his superiors asking why he should not be dismissed for refusing to get COVID-19 vaccination.
A division bench of Justices AJ Desai and AP Thaker issued a notice to the IAF and the central government on Tuesday and also directed the IAF not to take any coercive action against the petitioner till July 1.
Corporal Yogender Kumar, who is posted in Jamnagar, had moved the HC seeking a direction to cancel the show-cause notice dated May 10, 2021, in which the IAF stated that his stand against vaccination “verges to gross indiscipline”. Kumar’s continuation in the service is likely to adversely impact the health of other “air warriors and Air Force civilians”, the notice added.
“The IAF is of the opinion that your continuation in the disciplined force like Indian Air Force is undesirable and you need to be separated from the service,” Kumar said quoting the notice.
The plea said the decision of Respondent No 1 (IAF) to dismiss the petitioner for refusing to take the vaccine is not only contrary to the guidelines of the Union of India but also violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
“The termination from a job due to unwillingness to take COVID-19 vaccine is completely illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary on part of Respondent No 1,” the plea said.
On February 26, 2021, Kumar wrote to the commanding officer of his squadron expressing his unwillingness to get vaccinated. The petitioner told the IAF that he was using Ayurvedic medicines to increase his immunity against COVID-19. He also said he uses allopathic medicines only in an emergency, or when a solution is not possible in Ayurveda.
“I have some hesitation and my inner consciousness does not allow me to get vaccinated,” he stated in his application, as quoted in the plea.
Kumar said that he may be excused from vaccination. “The petitioner has the right to receive treatment of his choice and vaccination cannot be forced upon him… as per the central government, the vaccine is voluntary and not mandatory for individuals in the country,” he said.
The corporal also said he was unwilling to get vaccinated as the vaccine is not fully approved by the administration and has been given emergency use authorisation, hence it should not be considered the only option for prevention against COVID.