The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to file an affidavit furnishing the complete data on purchase history of all Covid vaccines -- Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V -- till date.
All these details will have to be filed through an affidavit within two weeks, the court said. The Court ordered that the affidavit should clarify the dates of all procurement orders placed by the government, the quantity of vaccines ordered and the projected date of supply.
“Our Constitution does not envisage courts to be silent spectators when constitutional rights of citizens are infringed by executive policies. Judicial review and soliciting constitutional justification for policies formulated by the executive is an essential function, which the courts are entrusted to perform,” the 32 page order stated, while stressing that issue of vaccination is absolutely essential and termed it singular most important task for the governments.
The court held that prima facie it is arbitrary and irrational on part of Centre’s policy to allow free vaccination of health workers, frontline workers and those in 45+ age group but permit private hospitals to charge those in 18-45 group and said, “Policy of Centre for conducting free vaccination for groups under first 2 phases and replacing it with paid vaccination by state/UT and pvt hospitals for persons in 18-44 years, is prima facie arbitrary, irrational.”
The Court also sought information on the percentage of population that has been vaccinated with one dose and both doses. This shall include data pertaining to the percentage of rural population as well as the percentage of urban population so vaccinated, the Court said.
The order was passed by a Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao, and S Ravindra Bhat in the suo motu case initiated by the top court to deal with issues relating to Covid-19 management. The order, passed on May 31, was published on the SC website only on Wednesday.
The Centre should provide an outline for how and when it seeks to vaccinate the remaining population in phases 1, 2 and 3, the apex court further said. The Court also directed all States and UTs to file affidavits clarifying whether they are giving vaccines for free.
Keeping in mind the increasing incidents of post-Covid complication Mucormycosis, the SC sought details of steps being taken by the Centre to ensure supply of drugs for Mucormycosis.
(With ENS inputs)