The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to grant urgent hearing in a plea seeking directions to be issued to the Central and State governments to ensure that vaccine for COVID-19 is supplied at the uniform rate of Rs. 150 per dose for citizens across the country.
When the matter was mentioned before the Bench of Chief Justice (CJ) Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni for priority hearing, the Court declined stating that the issue has pan-India implications and should be heard by the Supreme Court.
When the lawyer pointed out that Supreme Court had clarified that there was no embargo on High Courts to take up COVID related issues, CJ Datta clarified that pan India issues have to be considered by the top court.
“Pricing is a phenomenon applicable all over India. Supreme Court has already taken cognizance before you filed this petition, you can approach them. You cannot keep filing petitions like that,” CJ Datta remarked.
CJ Datta also remarked that while the High Court was alive to the situation in the State and were hauling up the Central and State governments for better treatment of people.
Since the Supreme Court was already hearing plea on COVID related issues, it would be correct to approach the Supreme Court with the grievances which nationwide implications, the Court said.
The petitioner then said that he will withdraw the plea.
The plea filed by a Mumbai based lawyer Fayzan Khan and his three interns, who are law students, alleged that the pharmaceutical companies are engaged in organised loot and Court’s intervention is required to protect the national public health and to ensure the fundamental right to equality and life are ‘not left to the mercy of the respondent pharmaceutical companies.
Apart from the State and the Central governments, the two vaccine manufacturing companies, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech were also arraigned as parties to the case.
The plea prayed for quashing the differential costs for COVID vaccines declared by SII and Bharat Biotech “with further direction to the Central government, State government to take all the steps ensuring the availability of the “COVID-19 vaccine” at uniform rate of Rs. 150/- per dose for the citizen by exercising powers under National Disaster Management Act, 2005, Essential Commodities Act and sovereign powers to achieve the goal of complete vaccination.”