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‘Arbitrary and Irrational’: SC Pulls Up Centre on Vaccine Policy

The top court stated that the Centre has failed to submit a national policy document on COVID-19 vaccines.

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The Centre's policy on different vaccine prices for different phases, and different age categories is “prima facie detrimental to the right to health of the country.” That's what the Supreme Court said about the current COVID vaccine policy in India.

The court also observed that while the Centre is arranging free vaccines for COVID warriors and the 45+ age group, asking the 18-44 age group to pay for it was “prima facie arbitrary and irrational.”

In a series of hard hitting questions on vaccine dual pricing, registration and distribution, the apex court took Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to task, whose responses of “addressing it in the next affidavit” did not convince the court.

However, this is not the first time has asked these tough questions.

Just a month earlier, on 3 May, SC had asked the same questions and also called out the discriminatory nature of the vaccine policy on three fronts – differential vaccine pricing, vaccine procurement of different age groups and the digital divide caused due to vaccine registration process via the CoWIN app.

The top court also observed on 31 May that Centre has failed to submit a national policy document on COVID-19 vaccines, adding the Centre has led to a trust deficit.

But despite the harsh commentary from the apex bench, no serious action has been taken against the central government and the court has, instead, given Centre a couple of more weeks to file yet another affidavit.

In the episode, we will go through the observations made by the Supreme Court COVID-19 Bench on Centre’s vaccine policy, the Centre’s responses to the same and how the vaccine policy is prima facie unconstitutional, according to the apex court.

To help untangle the various observations made by the Supreme Court on vaccine policy, for today’s episode, we spoke with The Quint’s Legal Consultant Karan Tripathi. Tune in!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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