SC tells Centre to revisit vaccine policy, not to put onus on States
New Delhi, May 03: The Supreme Court called on the Centre to revisit its vaccine policy and also consider a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"We are cognisant of the socio-economic impact of a lockdown, specifically, on the marginalised communities. Thus, in case the measure of a lockdown is imposed, arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of these communities," the Bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said.
The court said that none shall be denied hospitalisation or essential drugs for the lack of local residential proof or identity proof. Further it asked the Centre to formulate a national policy on admissions to private hospitals within two weeks, which should be followed by all states.
"Prima facie, the rational method of proceeding in a manner consistent with the right to life (which includes the right to health) under Article 21 would be for the Central Government to procure all vaccines and to negotiate the price with vaccine manufacturers. Once quantities are allocated by it to each State Government, the latter would lift the allocated quantities and carry out the distribution," the court said.
The court also said that it would not be logical to impose the obligation to source the vaccinations for the age group of 18-44 on the states as it will leave each of them to negotiate supply schedules, delivery points and other logistical arrangements with the manufacturers and will produce chaos and uncertainty.
Referring to the oxygen crisis, the court said that the situation on the ground in Delhi is heart rending and recriminations between the Central Government which contends that GNCTD has not lifted its allocated quantity and GNCTD can furnish no solace to citizens whose lives depend on a thin thread of oxygen being available.