New Delhi Aug 25(ILNS): The Supreme Court today has asked the petitioner to amend prayers in a plea seeking directions to the Centre to hand over the premises of state of the art vaccine manufacturer at Tamil Nadu namely HLL Biotech Limited (HBL) on lease to the State of Tamil Nadu to produce COVID-19 Vaccines
The Court has allowed the petitioner to withdraw their plea and re-file it with amended prayers that do not reflect the benefit of state governments in a PIL.
The Bench comprised of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah while giving liberty to the petitioner to re-file the petition observed that the below-mentioned prayer is a worry some and the court cannot direct so,
“Direct the Director-General, IMA & National Institute of Virology to authorize interested Public and Private Sector Unit to produce Covaxin under Section 92 Compulsory licensing of The Patent Act, 1970 to meet the requirement of National Health Emergency by issue license for their patent”
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for the petitioner along with advocate TS Sabraish submitted that after the Government of India mandated HLL to establish a state of art vaccine manufacturing unit termed as “Integrated Vaccines Complex” (IVC) at Chengalpattu near Chennai to produce lifesaving and cost-effective vaccines primarily to minimize the demand-supply gap and support GOI in the Universal Immunization program. The premises are lying unutilized since 2012 as such even after this 100 acres state of the art complex is ready for manufacturing vaccines.
The Petition stated that, with the second-largest population and one of the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities in the world, India has a Central role in the Covid-19 Vaccination effort. To vaccinate 18 plus citizens, we need 180 crore doses of vaccine. As per available data with the present capacity only 7 crore doses of vaccine can be manufactured in a month. Therefore, the government has to revive public sector undertakings and state-owned enterprises to ramp up vaccine production.
According to the plea, “HLL Biotech Limited (HBL) is a 100% subsidiary of HLL Lifecare Limited, a Government of India (GOI) Enterprise under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which is now a Deserted campus, staff shortage, unpaid wages, and financial troubles personify the Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) in Chengalpattu. Even though the complex should have been bustling with activity, instilling confidence among health officials at a time when people are scrambling for jabs amid the raging second wave of the pandemic.”
The Petition further stated that the Centre has been trying to either sell it fully or partly or auction it to the private sector for making vaccines and other biological required for fighting Covid-19. The Centre had been inviting expressions of interest from private firms since January but with the response lukewarm.
“It is respectfully submitted that the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Mr. M.K. Stalin has written a letter to the Prime Minister and expressed his interest and requested the central government to hand it over to the state government on lease so that the state government will identify a suitable private partner immediately and will make all efforts to commence vaccine production at the earliest,” the plea stated./ILNS/KR/SNG