The Indian Air Force has sacked one of its personnel from service for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which has been made a service condition, the central government has told the Gujarat High Court.
Additional Solicitor General Devang Vyas, in his submission on Wednesday in the HC on a plea moved by IAF corporal Yogendra Kumar at Jamnagar in Gujarat, told a division bench of Justices A.J. Desai and A.P. Thaker that across India, nine personnel had refused to get vaccinated and they were given show-cause notices.
One of them, who did not respond to the notice, was terminated from service, Mr. Vyas told the high court. He, however, did not give the name or any other details of the staffer against whom the action was taken.
“Across India, only nine personnel have refused to take the vaccine. All of them were given show cause notice...one did not respond, so in view of the lack of response, his service is already terminated,” Mr. Vyas told the court.
He said as far as the vaccine in general is concerned, it is optional, but so far as the Air Force is concerned, it is now made a service condition, which is in continuation of the oath taken at the time of enrollment in the service.
Also, it is imperative to see to it that the Force is not put in a vulnerable state, and it is required for personnel to mandatorily get vaccinated, he told the court.
Mr. Vyas also said since corporal Yogendra Kumar has responded to the show cause notice, he can either appear before a proper authority or the Armed Forces Tribunal, under provisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act.
On the plea of Mr. Kumar, challenging the notice after his unwillingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the HC on Wednesday directed the IAF to consider his case afresh.
The court disposed of his plea after ordering that the interim relief granted to the petitioner unwilling to get vaccinated shall continue until his case is decided by the IAF, and the same shall not be implemented for a period of two weeks from the date of service of the order to the petitioner.
Mr. Kumar had approached the court, seeking quashing of the show cause notice, dated May 10, 2021, issued to him by the IAF after he declined to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The IAF had asked him to show cause why he should not be dismissed for not taking COVID-19 vaccine. He had also sought the court's direction to direct the IAF to not take coercive action against him in furtherance of the show cause notice.
Mr. Kumar also requested the court to direct the IAF to follow the central government's order that the vaccine is purely voluntary and not mandatory.