Government and Policy
COVID-19 pandemic – Supreme Court steps in as Modi Government fails
The Supreme Court (SC) has issued directions to both the central and state governments in order to better tackle the situation. The apex court’s order came following the Suo moto proceedings spearheaded by the court in relation to the pandemic situation across the nation. The top court has directed the Modi government to take measures to remedy the lack of oxygen supply in the nation’s capital (New Delhi) “on or before midnight of 3 May.” The government has also been ordered to create a buffer stock of medical oxygen, to ensure a steady supply even in unforeseen circumstances and to decentralise the location of emergency stock.
“The emergency stocks shall be created within the next four days and is to be replenished on a day basis, in addition to the existing allocation of oxygen supply to the states,” stated the SC on 2 May 2021. The SC has further ordered the government of India (GoI) to draft a national policy on hospital admission within two weeks the nation’s top court has explicitly mentioned that “no patient will be denied admission or essential drugs in absence of local pr residential identity proof.”
Warnings against the curb of information on social media and harassment of individuals seeking relief or delivering aid. The SC has demanded that the central and state governments make a note of the records on the efforts undertaken to curb the virus spread. Demands regarding the details of the measures the government plans to initiate in the short term to contain the pandemic situation. “imposing a lockdown to curb virus,” has also been recommended by the apex court.
However, the top court has elaborated that that authorities would need to take the necessary arrangements before going for a lockdown. The inflated prices of Coronavirus drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab being sold duplicitously is being taken into cognizance by the top court. The court has called the act of corruption a “condemnable attempt to exploit people’s misery and profit from their helplessness.” The court has suggested to the central government to create a special team in order to crack down on counterfeit drugs and essential medicines being sold on the black market.
The SC rained down heavily on GoI’s vaccination policy, with the court calling its vaccine policy “detrimental to right to health.” The apex judicial body further said, “Consider revisiting its current vaccine policy to ensure that it withstands the scrutiny of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.” The SC further spoke out against the two separate prices being proposed by manufacturers supplying vaccines to the central government and the state governments.
The price range for Covishield ranges between rupees 400 per dose to states and Rs. 600 per dose to private hospitals, whereas the price range for Covaxin is Rs. 400 per dose to states and Rs. 1,200 per dose to private hospitals. The SC proclaimed yesterday that, “The social strata of this age group also comprise persons who are Bahujans or belong to other underprivileged and marginalized groups, like many in the other population age groups. They may not have the ability to pay.” Furthermore, the court criticised that vaccine availability for the age group between 18-44 years will depend upon the decisions of each state, based on their finances. The nation’s premier judicial body also sought details of the public grant to vaccines producers Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India.
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