Home Madrid language schools Supreme Court rulings rendered in May 2021

Supreme Court rulings rendered in May 2021

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In Re: Distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic the Supreme Court took suo motu knowledge of the management of the COVID-19 pandemic during the second wave. The Court heard from the Union of India, the States / Union Territories, the Amici curiae appointed by the Court, and some of the interveners in the case. The Court refers to its detailed order issued on 30.04.2021 concerning, among others, the vaccination policy, the supply of essential drugs, the supply of medical oxygen, the medical infrastructure, the increase in the number of health workers and the problems they face, and the problems of freedom of speech and expression during the COVID19 pandemic. The Court noted that its observations and instructions were in accordance with a “limited deliberative approachAnd the UoI had been urged to reconsider its policies on the above issues, taking into account the Supreme Court’s submissions. The Court further noted that following the order of 30.04.2021, a request for special authorization had been heard by two judges of the judiciary against an order of the Delhi High Court concerning the provision of medical oxygen. in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. (“NCTD”). However, during the procedure in this matter, by its decree of 06.05.2021, the Chamber had also set up a National Task Force to provide a public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic on the basis of a scientific approach. . The terms of reference of the national working group included, among others, assess and make recommendations for the need, availability and distribution of medical oxygen; the development of a methodology for the allocation of medical oxygen and the periodic review of the allocation according to the stage of the pandemic; provide recommendations for increasing oxygen reserves; facilitate audits in each State / UT to determine if oxygen supplies have reached their destination; effectiveness, transparency and efficiency of distribution networks within the State / UT; provide recommendations to ensure the availability of essential drugs, increase in medical and paramedical staff, pandemic management and treatment of cases. The court ruled that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic had started to recede across the country and the situation appeared to have become more manageable, due to which some of the issues discussed in previous orders may await further deliberation. . However, it was expressly stated that the issue of vaccination was absolutely crucial, as global health experts agreed that vaccinating the entire eligible population of the country was the most important task to effectively fight the pandemic. long-term COVID-19. Accordingly, the Court noted that it had limited itself to hearing observations on the UoI’s vaccination policy and its roadmap for the future. However, the Court also made it abundantly clear that all issues contained in previous Court Orders would always retain their overall importance and that the Court would continue to monitor them alongside the National Task Force and intervene whenever necessary. Previously, the court had argued that the vaccination campaign would be completed by the end of December 2021, and the central government was in active talks with foreign vaccine manufacturers at the highest political and diplomatic levels, to ensure an adequate supply. in vaccines. It has also been argued that it is incorrect to state that due to the updated UoI policy on vaccination of the 18-44 age group, there will be competition between states / UTs . Finally, it was affirmed that anyone over the age of 45 could continue to be vaccinated in establishments via on-site registration, without having to make an appointment in advance via the CoWIN platform. Several submissions were also made by the Amici including, among others, that foreign vaccine manufacturers were generally not receptive to dialogue with state governments / UTs since they only deal with federal governments in different countries regarding vaccine procurement; UoI’s universal immunization program had been replaced by liberalized pricing and the National Accelerated COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy whereby state governments / UTs or private hospitals are required to procure vaccines for people aged 18 to 44 from private manufacturers on the basis of a pro rata quota set by the UoI, which had led to a situation where state governments / UTs had to fend for themselves, rather than the central government acting on behalf of the entire nation. Therefore, vaccine manufacturers were free to apply differential purchase prices for UoI for immunizing people over 45, and for state governments / UTs and private hospitals for immunizing people. from 18 to 44 years old; Liberalized immunization policy was introduced to stimulate competitive pricing, but several states / UTs competed to purchase rare vaccines from a few manufacturers, which allowed manufacturers to create monopolies and sell at prices they wish to private health facilities. State governments / UT do not benefit from the unique position of the UoI, which has the advantage of negotiating appropriate prices for vaccines on behalf of the entire population of India and this placed a burden 18-44 year olds, especially those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, who have to buy two doses of vaccines. Other submissions were made regarding the role of state governments / UTs in vaccine supply such as, among others, the assertion that although public health is a subject under entry 6 of List II (List of States) of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, interstate migration and interstate quarantine were covered by the entry 81 of list I (Union list) and the prevention of the spread from one state to another of infectious or contagious diseases has been addressed by entry 29 of list III (concurrent list) and, therefore, managing the pandemic, controlling the spread of COVID-19, immunization policy and pricing, was the responsibility of the central government, which was to work in tandem with state governments / UTs. In this light, the liberalized immunization policy placed the burden of immunizing people aged 18-44 on state governments / UTs and conflicted with the constitutional balance of responsibilities between the Center and the states / UTs. The Court noted that between phases 1 and 3 of the national immunization policy, various measures had been taken to improve the procurement process and the use of vaccines. However, he noted that the actions taken by various States / UTs were not uniform and were continental on various factors. The Court also addressed the overlapping roles between the executive and the judiciary and the doctrine of the separation of powers, and referred to the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, to reiterate the expertise of the executive in handling a public health crisis, but also warned that arbitrary and irrational policies are excused under the guise of the “wide latitude” of the executive that is necessary to combat the pandemic . In reference to Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha v. Gujarat State, AIR 2020 SC 4601, while in the context of labor rights, the Court noted that policies aimed at countering the pandemic must be assessed against a threshold of proportionality in order to determine whether they have a rational connection to the desired objective and are necessary to achieve such objects. The Court then undertook a detailed analysis of the various problems encountered within the framework of the liberalized immunization policy, i.e. supply and distribution, the role of private hospitals, the base and the impact of prices. differential, logistical problems and the digital divide among the population in the use of the services of the CoWIN platform and provided various details on these issues. In conclusion, after making its suggestions based on the analysis undertaken, the Court requested the UoI to provide details and data regarding the first 3 phases of the vaccination campaign and an overview of how and when the central government is seeking to vaccinate the remaining population in phases 1, 2 and 3. Additionally, since the UoIs had stated in their affidavit dated 09.05.2021 that each state government / UT would provide vaccination free of charge to its population and as various state / UT governments had adopted changing positions, each of the state / UT governments were ordered to file an affidavit clarifying their position and recording their individual policies. [Key Words: Coronavirus, pandemic, vaccination policy of Union Government, procurement and distribution of vaccines, differential pricing][Coram: Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao, S Ravindra Bhat JJ.]


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