Plea in Bombay High Court to make COVID-19 vaccine available throughout country at Rs. 150, stop “organised loot” by manufacturers

A plea has been moved before the Bombay seeking directions to be issued to the Central and State governments to ensure that vaccine for COVID-19 is supplied at the uniform rate of Rs. 150 per dose for citizens across the country.
The plea filed by a Mumbai based lawyer Fayzan Khan and his three interns, who are law students, alleged that the pharmaceutical companies are engaged in organised loot and Court’s intervention is required to protect the national public health and to ensure the fundamental right to equality and life are ‘not left to the mercy of the respondent pharmaceutical companies.
Apart from the State and the Central governments, the two vaccine manufacturing companies, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have also been arraigned as parties to the case.
The plea further stated that the discrimination in cost would mean that “BJP led State governments will be supplied by the Central government” while “non-BJP ruling states will be forced to purchase vaccines at higher rate”.
The plea also questioned the propriety of asking the State government to compete in open market for vaccine procurement with Central government and private hospitals. This, the plea stated, will lead to an inter-state competition which would be disastrous.
It is arbitrary, discriminatory and does not fall within a state’s welfare policy where the “Central government is keeping an assured quota for itself”, it was submitted.
The plea also suggested that since vaccine is an essential commodity, and the production should not be left with a private company, the governments “possess all powers to acquire the entire establishment with the employees” for production, distribution of vaccine at reasonable costs in the event the companies refuse to act fairly.
The plea prayed for quashing the differential costs for COVID vaccines declared by SII and Bharat Biotech “with further direction to the Central government, State government to take all the steps ensuring the availability of the “COVID-19 vaccine” at uniform rate of Rs. 150/- per dose for the citizen by exercising powers under National Disaster Management Act, 2005, Essential Commodities Act and sovereign powers to achieve the goal of complete vaccination.”

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