Coronavirus | Supreme Court transfers COVID-19 vaccination case to itself

 A view of the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi. File

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed suo motu proceedings before the Delhi High Court on the administration of COVID-19 vaccine and transferred the case to itself.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde said a similar case concerning the vaccination drive was already pending in the Supreme Court, and the case from the Delhi High Court could be heard along with it.

Vaccine makers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech argued that vaccination was an “all- India” issue and needed to be heard by the Supreme Court for a final decision.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed with the vaccine makers to have the cases pending in High Courts, including Bombay High Court, to be transferred to the Supreme Court. The Bench issued notice on a plea by vaccine makers to transfer a vaccination-related case from the Bombay High Court too.

The decision to stay and transfer the suo motu case before the Delhi High Court is based on a petition by the vaccine makers.

Earlier in March, the two companies were asked by the Delhi High Court to reveal their capacity to manufacture the Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, respectively, on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the companies could not be made to run from one High Court to another, responding to questions about daily production and revealing details of their vaccines.

‘Vaccine commercial war’

Senior advocate Harish Salve, for Serum Institute, said there was a “vaccine commercial war” brewing. Disclosure would harm interests. He said courts should not ideally enter into this domain.

In fact, the Delhi High Court had on March 5 asked the companies to “disclose the daily off-take of the vaccines from their respective institutes and how much excess quantity of the vaccine is lying unutilised”.

It had wanted the companies to indicate “whether they can scale-up their capacities, if the need arises”.

The High Court had also asked the government to file an affidavit disclosing the “capacity to transport the vaccines while maintaining the cold chain, particularly in the NCT of Delhi”.

The High Court had also questioned the government’s rationale behind keeping a “strict control over the class of persons who can be presently vaccinated”.

“Under the present arrangement persons above the age of 60 years and those falling in the age group of 45-60 years with serious co-morbidities alone can receive the vaccinations. The rationale for such a classification should also be disclosed,” the High Court had directed the government.

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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 10:21:27 am |