SC on COVID Vaccine Policy – UPSC GS2

  • SC is hearing case on Covid-19 issues (In Re-Distribution of Essential Services and Supplies During Pandemic).
What are the issues raised by the Supreme Court?
  • Vaccines Procurement:
    • The Supreme Court has asked the Central Government about the procurement policy of the Covid-19 vaccines adopted by the Central Government.
    • Currently, the Central Government procures just 50% of the vaccines while leaving the States to buy their own.
    • Further, the court also referred to Article 1 of the Constitution that says that India, that is Bharat, is a Union of States. It said that when the Constitution says that we follow the federal rule. Then the Government of India has to procure the vaccines and distribute them to states.
  • Dual Pricing of Vaccines:
    • The Supreme court asked the Centre on the rationale for the dual pricing of vaccines for the Centre and States.
    • It said that there needs to be one price for vaccines across the Nation.
  • Different Criteria for Age Groups:
    • The Supreme Court asked the Central Government about the rationale for giving different treatment to the age group 18-44 years as the Centre is giving free vaccines only to the 45+ age group.
    • The court also pointed out that it is the 18-44 age group which got badly affected in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Digital Divide and COWIN registration.
    • The Supreme court has also raised questions about making COWIN registration mandatory for getting vaccine slots.
    • The court asked the government to realise the digital divide prevailing in rural India. It said that the vaccination policy is entirely exclusionary of the rural areas.

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