Plea in Bombay High Court Concerning Price of COVID-19 Vaccine Urging Court To Direct Manufacturers To Stop Loot
A plea has been filed in the Bombay High Court (HC) over the concern of different price rates for COVID-19 Vaccine from different manufacturers. In the plea filed before the HC directions were sought to the Central and State Governments ensuring that vaccine for COVID-19 is supplied at the uniform price rate of Rs. 150 per dose for citizens across India.
The petition was filed by Fayzan Khan who is a Mumbai-based lawyer and his three interns, who are law students (Petitioners). It was alleged by the petitioners that the pharmaceutical companies are engaged in organized loot and they are fixing the price of vaccine at its discretion just for profit-making and ignoring the concern of it being pocket friendly to all.
The plea sought the HC's intervention 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.
In the plea, it was urged from the HC that the Central Government, State Government should take all the steps ensuring the availability of the "COVID-19 vaccine" at a uniform rate of Rs. 150/- per dose for the citizen by exercising powers under National Disaster Management Act, 2005, Essential Commodities Act.
The plea was filed through V Shukla and Associates and it was filed against the State/ the Central Governments, Serum Institute of India (SII), and Bharat Biotech.
The question was raised in the plea that why the Central Government has given relaxation and permitted the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer for its commercial exploitation.
It was urged that such liberty is unreasonable, illogical and it amounts to blackmailing the citizens who badly need this vaccine. It also challenges the permission granted by the Central Government to keep the huge difference in the price of this vaccine in the rate viz. at which, it is being supplied to the Central Government (INR 150 + GST) and the rate of Rs.400/- for the State Government and Rs.600/- for Private Hospitals declared by SII.
It was contended by the petitioners that the Central Government has the responsibility to take the decision on fixing the costs of the vaccine rather than leaving it upon a private entity.
The plea also questioned the propriety of asking the State Government to compete in the open market for vaccine procurement with the Central Government and private hospitals. It was further stated will lead to an inter-state competition which would be disastrous.
A concern was raised over liberty given by the Union to State and Private Hospital to fix prices of vaccine at its discretion that is arbitrary as it is the issue of citizen's life and making it a profit-making game is unacceptable.
The petition reads "Storage of this life-saving vaccine by the private entities and also costing State Government at high cost in this pandemic situation cannot be controlled".
As COVID-19 vaccine is an essential commodity and hence it should be easily accessible to all without this price variation. It was stated in the plea that the production should not be left with a private company, the governments possess all powers to acquire the entire establishment with the employees for production, distribution of vaccine at reasonable costs in the event the companies refuse to act fairly.
Getting vaccination at a reasonable price is a right of every citizen and no one can discriminate by fixing different price rates for the vaccine. The petitioners urged that the 100% vaccination of the citizen is the only hope of ray to combat the present pandemic; it cannot be left or relaxed in the hands of greedy management of SII and black-marketers.
The petitioner prayed before the HC to quash the different price rates fixed by SII and Bharat Biotech for the COVID-19 Vaccine. The petitioners further sought directions from the HC to the Central Government, State Government to take all the steps ensuring the availability of the "COVID-19 vaccine" at the uniform rate of Rs. 150/- per dose for the citizen.
The petitioners have emphasized that variation in price rates of COVID-19 will cause a disastrous impact. It was further highlighted that most of the other countries have lower price rates of COVID-19 Vaccine as the aim is that all should get vaccinated.
The plea further sought for the interim order of injunction restraining the manufacturing companies from selling the COVID vaccines at a rate of more than Rs. 150/- (+GST) or obstructing its supply to the center, or state or needy citizens.