Advocate Prashant Bhushan told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it was unethical and irresponsible to use untested COVID-19 vaccines on children [Jacob Puliyel v Union of India]..The Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai was hearing a plea seeking a declaration that mandating COVID-19 vaccination, even by way of making it a pre-condition for accessing any benefits or services, was a violation of citizens' rights..Advocate Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, told the Court that mandating vaccination for children was egregious, as children were hardly affected by COVID-19. "Chance of dying due to vaccine itself is more for a child than chances of dying due to Covid. Now it is being mandated," he said. .The Court was informed that the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) had made it mandatory for children to be vaccinated in order to sit for exams. He urged the Court to exercise its power of judicial review on any such arbitrary directives and strike down these vaccine mandates..Bhushan stressed that vaccination was an individual decision, and that this was an absolute right. He submitted that in the absence of informed consent, mandatory vaccination was unconstitutional."I have decided that I will not take this vaccine and it will cause me more harm than good. What I have studied in 2 years is that if you are healthy, the chance you get Covid is virtually nil. The long term effects of vaccines is not there.".It was further argued that a vaccine mandate imposed restrictions on individuals' right to life and livelihood, which was impermissible."Such mandate cannot put a fetter upon the right to access essential goods and services...Welfare policy of vaccination cannot affect right to life and livelihood, and there is no reasonable nexus too."When the Court pointed out that the Centre has said that COVID-19 vaccination was not mandatory, Bhushan pointed out that the states are mandating it..On the petitioner's submission that the infection provides better protection and development of antibodies against the virus, the Court objected on the grounds that it did not have the expertise to examine the issue from this perspective. "Can we go into this area which is an area of expertise? You have expertise Mr. Bhushan, with your two years of research. But we don't have it," Justice Gavai pointed out. The judge went on to state that the extent of the Court's adjudication would be limited to whether the policy of the Central government was in accordance with expert opinion..However, Bhushan argued against such a stand, saying that a court which was mandated to protect fundamental rights could not throw its hands up in air.Justice Rao, however, said, "If you take us deep into this area, we don't understand this area. Science is a space of opinion, your opinion may be different than the other.".To this, it was submitted that the petitioner was only relying on data and studies which had been washed out by mainstream media to further a particular agenda. "Among all the judges, almost all were vaccinated, but even then they got infected with Omicron, and the same is with people I know," he told the Court. .The petitioner also informed the Court that many of those who suffer side effects do not report them as the process to do so was too cumbersome. Thus, only deaths were reported. He drew the Court's attention to measures being taken by other countries to monitor adverse effects, while submitting that the Indian government had shown no seriousness in recording adverse effects and consequences of vaccination. "The Brazil regulator had refused approval for Covaxin of Bharat Biotech. Similarly, various countries have been actively monitoring adverse events following immunisation. UK has recorded 1 among 106 as adverse effect recipients of AstraZeneca vaccine," he claimed..The petitioner submitted that informed consent could only be given for a vaccine if all data regarding it was provided. However, in this case, no Phase III data was available. "We are being mandated to take vaccines of those whose Phase 3 data is not available; the material presented to the drug control authority is not presented to the public. Where is the question of informed consent?".The petitioner thus prayed that mandates must only be issued if there is evidence that unvaccinated people pose a greater danger to the vaccinated..The hearing was adjourned to March 8, when Additional Solicitor General of India Aishwarya Bhati is expected to make a rebuttal on behalf of the Central government..Read a live account of the hearing.