Why do states have to pay higher prices? The price must be uniform, according to the Supreme Court
A bench of 3 judges Judges DY Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat asked the central government tough questions about the rationale for the central government’s policy of double-pricing and purchasing COVID vaccines.
At today’s hearing, Judge Chandrachud raised the question of whether 50% of the population aged 18 to 45 would even be able to afford the vaccines and noted that to alleviate such a divide , a uniform policy for supply and distribution had to be established.
Noting that article 1 of the Constitution of India stipulates that “Bharat shall be a Union of States”, observed Judge Chandrachud, “When the Constitution says so, we follow the federal rule. The government must procure the vaccine and distribute it. States cannot be left out. What is India’s vaccine policy? as a single national agency and procuring for states or states have they been left to fend for themselves? ”
The aforementioned observation comes in the context of how states launch global tenders, but the same is dismissed as some foreign companies only have a policy of dealing with countries and not with states. .
In light of this, the House requested the vaccination policy and ordered the Center to explain the rationale for adopting the dual policy. He further questioned why the Center is buying vaccines for people over 45 and dropping the 18-45 age group.
“Can we say that 50% of the population aged 18 to 45 will be able to afford vaccines? Not at all. How do we view the marginalized and those who cannot support themselves. These are areas that we need to examine critically. Also, why do states have to pay a higher price? You need to make sure that the vaccines are available at the same price throughout the country “, said Judge Chandrachud.
This question was also addressed by Amicus Curiae Sr. Advs. Jaideep Gupta and Meenakshi Arora.
Gupta highlighted that different states have different economic conditions and it is up to the Center to procure the vaccines for the whole country. Arora, for his part, argued that entry 29 of the simultaneous list as well as entry 81 of the Union list put the burden of purchasing vaccines at the door of the Center.
India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has said he will put the details in an affidavit. The union’s senior legal official also said government policy was not “set in stone” and was flexible to respond to the dynamic situation.
The court adjourned the hearing for two weeks to ask the Center to address concerns raised by the judges.
On April 30, the bench raised several relevant questions concerning the Centre’s vaccination policy, the distribution of essential drugs and the allocation of oxygen to states. The judiciary had made a prima facie finding that the vaccination of the Center was prejudicial to the citizens’ right to health and required a revision to bring it into conformity with the mandate of articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The court also suggested that the Center explore options such as compulsory licensing of COVID vaccines and drugs, and that vaccines be purchased centrally from manufacturers.
In response, the Center filed an affidavit, claiming that its immunization policy had been formulated on the basis of broad consultations with experts and stakeholders, and therefore complied with Articles 14 and 21. The Center also resisted scrutiny. judicial policy saying: “any overzealous, however well-intentioned, judicial intervention can lead to unintended and unintended consequences.”
Also read other hearing reports:
“You can’t just say you’re the center and you know what’s right. We have a strong arm to get down on this ”: Supreme Court questions COVID vaccine policy
“People are not getting vaccine slots; Receiving distress calls: Supreme Court questions Co-WIN registration requirement for vaccination