The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to place on record relevant documents, file notings reflecting its thinking in COVID-19 vaccination policy.
A special bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L N Rao and S Ravindra Bhat asked the government to submit the entire data on record giving the Centre's purchase history of all COVID-19 vaccines.
The top court further slammed the Centre for its vaccination policy for people between 18-44 years, terming it as 'arbitrary' and irrational'.
"Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, we are now faced with a situation where the 18-44 age group also needs to be vaccinated, although priority may be retained between different age groups on a scientific basis. Hence, due to the importance of vaccinating individuals in the 18-44 age group, the policy of the Central Government for conducting free vaccination themselves for groups under the first 2 phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by the State/UT Governments and private hospitals for the persons between 18-44 years is, prima facie, arbitrary and irrational," Justice Chandrachud said in the 32-page order.
Taking note of the Centre's reply that states and UTs will provide vaccination free of cost to its population, the court said it is important that individual states and UTs may confirm or deny this position before this Court. Further, if they have decided to vaccinate their population for free then, as a matter of principle, it is important that this policy is annexed to their affidavit so that the population within their territories can be assured of their right to be vaccinated for free at a state vaccination centre.
Hence, we direct each of the State/UT Governments to also file an affidavit within 2 weeks, where they shall clarify their position and put on record their individual policies, the bench said.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Centre on the COVID-19 vaccine procurement and differential pricing for itself and states.
A special bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L N Rao and S Ravindrabhat said that since the Centre has made CoWin registration mandatory for vaccination, how is it going to address the issue of digital divide facing the country.
(With inputs from PTI)
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST