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Centre’s Vaccine Policy Detrimental To Right To Health, Should Be Revisited: SC

On Centre’s vaccine policy, the bench led by DY Chandrachud observed that “there are several aspects of the vaccine pricing policy adopted by the Central government which require that policy be revisited

The Apex Court, in a late night order on Sunday, said the manner in which Centre’s current vaccine policy has been framed would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health, an integral part of Article 21 of Constitution. The top court also asked the centre to revisit the policy.

On Centre’s vaccine policy, the bench led by DY Chandrachud observed that “there are several aspects of the vaccine pricing policy adopted by the Central government which require that policy be revisited. All vaccines, whether in the quantity of 50% purchased by the Central Government or the remaining 50%, are to be used for vaccinating citizens.”

“While we are not passing a conclusive determination on the constitutionality of the current policy, the manner in which the current policy has been framed would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health which is an integral element of Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, we believe that the Central Government should consider revisiting its current vaccine policy to ensure that it withstands the scrutiny of Articles 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution,” the bench said.

Raising questions over the Centre’s vaccine registration process, the court asked as to how will those people who do not have access to digital means or applications access the vaccines. The top court also asked the central government to target efforts in vaccinating crematorium workers who were not considered as frontline healthcare workers

The court also asked the centre and state governments to provide a breakup of the current and projected availability of vaccine stocks for the next 6 months and a timeline for achieving immunization of those aged between 18-44 years.

The Supreme Court also sought details regarding the aid provided to the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. It sought details of whether the Finance Ministry or any other funding organization of Centre has made any grants or sanctions to Bharat Biotech and SII in the past, like the current infusion of Rs 1500 crores. If so, the Court sought a breakup and correlation with the total cost of development and production of the two vaccines.

 

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