Highlighting the need for Covid-19 vaccination as India tries to battle the pandemic, Justice DY Chandrachud, while hearing a bail request, sent “prayers to God” on Tuesday so that physical hearings could resume.
As a petitioner’s lawyer commented that he would “pray to God so that next time when this case comes up there will be a physical hearing in the Supreme Court”, the judge instantly replied: “Pray to God that vaccination for everyone is done as soon as possible and then only we will have physical hearing.”
Only virtual hearings have taken place in the Supreme Court since March last year.
Justice Chandrachud is heading the Bench that is presently hearing the suo motu matter on issues arising out of Covid-19 management across the country.
During Monday’s hearing in the matter, the Supreme Court questioned the Centre on differential pricing of vaccines. The Apex Court also demanded the Centre to produce their vaccine policy document.
“We can’t have differential pricing for the Centre and States. Central government has wide powers to fix rates under Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Why leave it to the vaccine manufacturers to fix different pricing?” said the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court also questioned the rationale behind making vaccines free for those above 45 years of age while charging the rest. “What is the basis for Centre to say that for 45+ age group, Centre will provide free of charge, but not for 18-44 age group. If the purpose is to procure vaccines, why should Centre confine itself to 45 plus & leave states to fend for themselves in 18-44 group?” questioned SC.
Centre reiterated during the hearing that entire eligible population will be vaccinated by 2021-end. “If the monthly capacity is about 15 crores, how will we reach the target in another 6 months,” said SC in response.
“You can’t tell us that just because you are the government, you know what’s right. The law has a strong arm to address such issues. If we as a court are highlighting certain issues, you should look into it. Digital literacy is a huge problem in our country. We just don’t want to see your affidavit, show us your policy document,” said Supreme Court.