'Irrational and arbitrary': SC on COVID vaccination policy for 18+, directs Centre to place on record documents
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court, in its detailed order on Wednesday, asked the Centre to furnish data on the total percentage of population vaccinated with first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines in both rural and urban areas. The top court also asked the Centre to submit documents reflecting its thinking on the COVID-19 vaccination policy.
A bench headed by Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, during the hearing in the case on Covid-19 management in the country, also asked the Centre to provide an outline for how and when the Central government seeks to vaccinate the remaining population in phases 1, 2 and 3.
The top court asked the Centre to give detailed information on (a) the dates of all procurement orders placed by the Central government for all 3 vaccines; (b) the number of vaccines ordered as on each date; and (c) the projected date of supply. All these details will have to be filed through an affidavit within two weeks.
"UoI (Union of India) shall also ensure that copies of all the relevant documents and file notings reflecting its thinking and culminating in the vaccination policy are also annexed on the vaccination policy. Hence, we direct the UoI to file its affidavit within 2 weeks."
"The complete data on the Central Government's purchase history of all the Covid-19 vaccines till date (Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V). The data should clarify: (a) the dates of all procurement orders placed by the Central Government for all 3 vaccines; (b) the quantity of vaccines ordered as on each date; and (c) the projected date of supply," the order further stated.
As the Centre, in its May 9 affidavit, had said that every state/UT government will provide vaccination free of cost to its population, the court noted: "It is important that individual state/UT governments confirm/deny this position before this court.
"Further, if they have decided to vaccinate their population for free, then, as a matter of principle, it is important that this policy is annexed to their affidavit, so that the population within their territories can be assured of their right to be vaccinated for free at a state vaccination centre."
"Hence, due to the importance of vaccinating individuals in the 18-44 age group, the policy of the Central Government for conducting free vaccination themselves for groups under the first 2 phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by the State/UT Governments and private hospitals for the persons between 18-44 years is, prima facie, arbitrary and irrational," the order read.
The top court directed each of the state/UT governments to also file an affidavit within 2 weeks, clarifying their position and put on record their individual policies. The court posted the matter for further hearing on June 30.
Asking the Centre to "smell the coffee" and ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are available at the same price across the nation, the top court had advised the government to be flexible with its policies to deal with the “dynamic pandemic situation”.
(With PTI Inputs)
Posted By: Talibuddin Khan