Written by: Smita Pandey (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
“The country is in dire need of oxygen,” said Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta while representing the UOI before the Apex Court. The complete suo moto recognition came after Vedanta filed an interim application to open up its plant only to produce oxygen and distribute it to the people for free. The Supreme Court subsequently ordered the Centre to submit its Covid readiness plan. The CJI described the situation as “alarming” and that’s why asked the national plan on basically four issues. Among them is the supply of oxygen, vital pharmaceuticals, injections and other materials, and immunization methods.
The bench, which included CJI S.A Bobde, Justices S Ravindra Bhatt and L. Nageshwar Rao, remarked that six high courts, including those in Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, Odisha, Calcutta, and Allahabad, are currently hearing cases of Covid readiness. “It’s causing uncertainty and diversion,” the CJI said.
Following a barrage of criticism from numerous lawyers, SC has even stated that it does not intend to replace HC cases on COVID-19. The Supreme Court, however, cannot remain a “silent spectator” in the face of a major recurrence of COVID-19 cases, which has been dubbed as a “national disaster.” The High Courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial boundaries, according to a bench led by Justice D.Y Chandrachud, and the Apex Court is playing a complementary role, with its “intervention must be understood in the correct perspective” because some matters transcend regional boundaries. The court clarified that there is a need for the Supreme Court to intervene in certain national concerns since there may be concerns involving state coordination.
“We are only complementing each other. We will assist High Courts if they are having problems dealing with issues due to geographic limitations,” stated the bench. The Supreme Court rapped the Centre for its strategy of dual pricing for COVID-19 vaccination on Monday, May 31, and questioned the logic of allowing states and even municipal entities to compete for vaccines from private manufacturers via worldwide tenders. The Supreme Court stated that while wealthy governments such as Maharashtra may be able to obtain vaccines this way, a poorer state would be unable to do so.
Slamming the central government, the court said, “You can’t just say that you’re the Centre and you know what’s right. We have a strong arm to come down on this.” The court also questioned non-uniformity in vaccines being procured by states from manufacturers. “What makes the states pay a larger price? You must ensure that immunizations are offered at the same cost throughout the country. “You can’t have one pricing at the federal level and another at the state level,” Justice Chandrachud stated.
SC QUESTIONS COWIN ACCESSIBILITY DIFFERENT RULES FOR 18-44 AGE GROUPS
The Supreme Court questioned the COWIN portal’s accessibility and functionality, as well as how people in rural areas and the technologically handicapped masses of India were able to get slots.
“Even in the villages, they must register at a central location. “Does that make sense?” Chandrachud had inquired. “Can we say that 50% of the population between the ages of 18 and 45 will be able to afford vaccines? Not in the least. How do we view those on the margins and those who are unable to support themselves? According to Live Law, Chandrachud said, “These are places we have to look at critically.”
In addition, the Supreme Court declared the COVID-19 vaccination programme to be “prima facie arbitrary and unreasonable” on June 3rd. And he demanded that the Centre disclose detailed information on how the Rs 35,000 crore set aside in the Union Budget for vaccinations has been spent so far. In a sharp reaction to the Centre’s claims in an affidavit that the judiciary should not join the policy-making realm, the bench stated, “Constitution does not envision courts to be quiet spectators when constitutional rights of individuals are infringed by executive actions.”