Justice DY Chandrachud, who is heading the Supreme Court’s three-judge special Bench in a suo motu case on issues related to COVID management, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and is in isolation.
Thursday’s, 13 May, scheduled hearing on the “distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic and similar matters” has been deferred until further notice.
In a notification issued Wednesday, the Supreme Court said that “since one of the Hon’ble Judges of the Bench scheduled to hear” the case on Thursday has tested COVID positive, the Special Bench will not sit and the matters listed stand deferred.
Due to the pandemic, the apex court has been hearing cases via video conferencing. On Monday, the court had adjourned the hearing in the COVID matter to Thursday due to connectivity issues.
Four other judges of the court had tested positive in the past and have since recovered.
Centre’s Affidavit on Vaccination Policy
The Bench was scheduled to take up an affidavit on Thursday, filed by the Centre on Sunday.
Calling for rethinking of the Centre’s revised vaccine procurement policy, the Supreme Court had said, “The manner in which the current policy has been framed would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health, which is an integral element of Article 21 of the Constitution,” Bar & Bench reported.
The apex court had also sought answers regarding the differential pricing of vaccines for states and the Centre.
In its reply filed on 9 May, Sunday, the Centre, defending its vaccination policy, stated that it is intended to incentivise vaccine manufacturers to rapidly scale up their production and to attract new vaccine manufacturers, including from abroad.
The central government added that its vaccination policy had been framed to ensure equitable distribution with the limited availability of vaccines and vulnerability, and that vaccinating the entire country was not possible in one go due to the suddenness of the pandemic.
The affidavit also added, “Any overzealous, though well-meaning, judicial intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences, in absence of any expert advice or administrative experience, leaving the doctors, scientists, experts, and executive very little room to find innovative solutions on the go,” Bar & Bench reported.
(With inputs from Bar & Bench)