Indian Supreme Court advises central government to review COVID-19 vaccination policy – JURIST – News
India’s Supreme Court on Monday issued an order asking the central government to review India’s current vaccination plan amid the country’s second wave of infections. He said the current policy would undermine the right to public health, in violation of article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The Court highlighted several aspects of the central government’s vaccine pricing policy that require review. The court mainly focused on the current political discrimination between who would and would not receive the vaccine. This is because there is a difference between the way the central government receives the vaccines and the way state governments receive the vaccines. Vaccine makers offered a lower price to the central government and a higher price to state governments. It is therefore likely that state governments will negotiate with manufacturers, which will be detrimental to people between the ages of 18 and 44, who will be vaccinated by state governments.
The specific group that the court finds would be affected by this policy include the Bahujan and those belonging to other disadvantaged groups who may not have the capacity to pay. Whether or not they can receive the vaccine will depend on the decision of each state government. This will create disparities across the country and constitute a form of discrimination between different categories of citizens.
This is contrary to article 21 of the Indian Constitution which emphasizes the right to life and public health. The court proposed to the government a method of proceeding that conforms to this law. The court said it would be up to the central government to “procure all the vaccines and negotiate the price with the vaccine manufacturers.” Consequently, obtaining the vaccine would be centralized and consistent and the right to life and public health would be respected.
The court gave an overview of the clarifications it would like to see from the central government. These included how the central government hoped to get enough vaccine doses for the population ahead of the revised strategy, and whether the numbers used to conclude its policy were relevant at the distressing time of a global pandemic. The court wants the central government to focus on helping save people rather than on the economic effects of the vaccine.