Submit Documents On Vaccine Policy
The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to place on record all relevant documents and file notings reflecting its thinking culminating in the COVID-19 vaccination policy, and the purchase history till the date of all jabs including Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V.
The top court also asked the Centre to specify the steps being taken to ensure drug availability for Mucormycosis or Black Fungus.
Besides, it directed all states and Union Territories within 2 weeks their stand on providing free vaccination.
A special bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L N Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said: “While filing its affidavit, UoI 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 bench said in its May 31 order uploaded on Wednesday on its website.
The bench asked the Centre to ensure that each issue dealt by it in the order is responded to individually.
“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 bench said.
The top court’s order came in suo motu case on COVID-19 management.
The bench also sought data on the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated (with one, and both doses), as against eligible persons in the first three phases of the vaccination drive.
“This shall include data pertaining to the percentage of the rural population as well as the percentage of the urban population so vaccinated,” it said, adding that an outline for how and when the Central Government seeks to vaccinate the remaining population in phases 1, 2 and 3, shall also be given.
The bench noted that the Centre its May 9 affidavit stated that every state/UT shall provide vaccination free of cost to its population and said that it is important that individual governments confirm/deny this position before the top 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, we direct each of the State/UT Governments to also file an affidavit within 2 weeks, where they shall clarify their position and put on record their individual policies,” the bench said.
It listed the matter for further hearing on June 30.
On May 31, the top court had highlighted the “digital divide” between rural and urban India and posed searching queries to the Centre on mandatory registration on CoWIN for COVID jabs, vaccine procurement policy and differential pricing, saying the policymakers “must-have ears on the ground” to effectively deal with the “unprecedented” crisis.
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”.
The top court had, however, hailed the Centre and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for the efforts to deal with the pandemic saying, “The idea is not to criticize or pull-down anybody. When the EAM went to the USA and entered into the dialogue, it showed the importance of the situation”.
Justice Chandrachud, who himself is recovering from coronavirus infection, had questioned the vaccine procurement policy and raised the issue of digital divide questioning the policy of mandatory registration on CoWIN App for jabs.