‘Arbitrary & Irrational’: SC on Centre’s Ph-3 Vaccination Policy
The court also noted that the Phase-3 policy does not prioritise persons with comorbidities and other diseases.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 2 June, termed the Centre’s “Liberalised Vaccination Policy” as “arbitrary and irrational”, as it does not provide free vaccination for those in the age group of 18 to 44 years.
The observation was made by a Bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao, and S Ravindra Bhat in the suo moto case on COVID related issues.
The top court noted that with the experience of the second wave it has learned that COVID is capable of mutation and poses a threat to the 18 to 44 age group as well, seeing how they have suffered serious symptoms of the infection and in many cases, have died.
The top court observed, “Due to the importance of vaccinating individuals in the 18-44 age group, the policy of the Central government for conducting free vaccination themselves for groups under the first two phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by the state/UT governments and private hospitals for the persons between 18 to 44 years is, prima facie, arbitrary and irrational,” LiveLaw reported.
Undertake a ‘Fresh Review’ of the Vaccination Policy: SC
Among the observations made by the apex court, it was noted that the “liberalised” policy requires the 18-44 age group to pay for the vaccine. Moreover, the court noted, a limited number of vaccines are available for this category and over that, additional requirement of mandatory digital registration and booking through Co-WIN has also been imposed, slowing down the vaccination drive.
The court directed the government to undertake a “fresh review” of the vaccination policy in light of the concerns raised by the court, LiveLaw reported.
The court also noted that, unlike the previous policy, the Phase-3 policy does not prioritise persons with comorbidities and other diseases. The Union government has been asked by the court to respond to the observations by filling a fresh affidavit.
The court has also asked the Central government for all relevant documents and file notings reflecting their thinking regarding the vaccination policy.
Additionally, the top court added, “we find that the liberalised vaccination policy may not be able to yield the desired results of spurring competitive prices and higher quantities of vaccines”.
(With inputs from LiveLaw)
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