New Delhi, Sept 10 (ILNS) The Central government informed the Delhi High Court today that it would undertake to supply Covid-19 vaccines free of cost to all states and union territories as part of the Revised Guidelines for implementation of Covid-19 Vaccination Programme issued in June this year. The Centre made this submission on a plea seeking a reduction in the price of Covid-19 vaccines in the country.
The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was hearing a petition filed by an activist, that the price of anti-coronavirus vaccine has increased across India. Central Government Standing Counsel Anurag Ahluwalia submitted that the vaccinations are being administered free of cost at Government Vaccination Centres all over the country.
The Bench directed him to file a short response stating the aforementioned revised guidelines. The matter will now be taken up on September 17.
The PIL was filed by one Rakesh, through Advocates A.K Dubey, Deepak Kalra, Vidya Sagar and Pawan Kumar. The plea alleges that the Indian Government is supplying anti-coronavirus vaccines free of cost to various countries including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka; whereas the price of the same has increased across India. Relying on various newspaper articles, the plea states that the manufacturer of Covaxin would now be charging Rs 150 from the Centre, Rs 600 from the State and Rs 1,200 from private hospitals; while the same was earlier available at an affordable price of Rs 250 at private hospitals. With the increase in price, it would be difficult for most people in India to afford the vaccine, the plea claims.
The plea, therefore, prays for fixing the earlier prevailing rate of vaccine.
“It is very surprising that the Respondent No.1 (the Centre) without securing our citizen has been helping out the citizen of other countries, which is good, but same cannot be done while our citizen have been losing their life in India,” the plea adds.
The plea further adds that priority of the Government should be to save its citizens first, and thereafter, other countries should be supplied the vaccine.
On May 1, 2021, the Centre announced the “Liberalized and accelerated Phase-III strategy of Covid-19 vaccination”. Under the policy, the State Governments and private hospitals were permitted to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers. Subsequently, the guidelines were revised in June, wherein now the Centre procures 75% of the total vaccines produced by the manufacturers and supply the same free of cost to states and UTs, whereas the remaining 25% is open for procurement by private hospitals./ILNS/BG/KR/SNG