The Allahabad High Court on Friday directed the Uttar Pradesh Government regarding steps taken by it to ensure sufficient availability of Covid-19 vaccine in the State within 3-4 months.
The division bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar passed this order while hearing a PIL filed by ‘In-Re Inhuman Condition At Quarantine Centres And For Providing Better Treatment To Corona Positive’.
“We must remember that in the context of Covid-19 virus unless every individual is protected, no one is safe,” the Court observed.
S.V. Raju, Additional Solicitor General of India, submitted that oxygen supply was no more an issue in the State of U.P. though there was some gap between demand and supply but the gap was not so significant that any patient would die for want of oxygen. Besides that, he submitted that oxygen generation/ production has already started in the State and supply was continuous.
He further submitted that as far as the disposal of the confiscated articles like life saving drugs Remdesivir injection, oxygen cylinders and oxmeters were concerned, the concerned Magistrate was himself sufficiently empowered to pass order immediately under Section 451 and 457 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
Accordingly, we hereby directed to all the concerned Magistrates in the entire State of Uttar Pradesh to immediately dispose of the case properties like life saving drugs namely Remdesivir, Oxygen cylinders and oximeters and such other related articles within a week of the case being instituted before them, the Court said.
The Court also directed the Director General of Police to immediately issue advisory to all the Senior Superintendents/Superintendents of Police in the State to direct the concerned police officers who have seized or would seize in future such articles from illegal possessions, to immediately within 24 hours of such seizure, approach concerned Magistrates for the disposal of such property and in the event they approach the concerned Magistrate, he shall dispose of the case properties exercising power under Section 457 Cr.P.C.
On the question of availability of vaccine, proposed expenditure and the steps taken in the face of the fact that threat of third waive of Covid-19 pandemic looms large and how much vaccines were available, S.P. Singh, Additional Solicitor General of India informed the Court that the available vaccine in the make of Covaxin and Covishield were available to the tune of 8.5 crores for the month of May, 2021.
Additional Solicitor General further submitted that Central Government had the necessary budget as per the announcement made in the Parliament by the Finance Minister to the tune Rs.35,000 crores to spend on Covid-19 vaccines.
According to him, the Central Government was intending to procure vaccines from other vaccine producers also and for this purpose the conditions in the guidelines for the license qua emergency use of vaccines had also been relaxed. He submitted that 1.5 lacs Sputnik Covid vaccines had already arrived in India from Russia till now.
The direction was made after Additional Solicitor General of India and Additional Advocate General informed the Court that now the vaccines were available in the global market and anybody could purchase it and that the Government had already floated global tenders for the same.
“We are of the opinion that tender is a long drawn process and if we run late in vaccinating large number of population in the State, we may lose the real desired result of vaccination as the virus may achieve such mutations which may neutralize the vaccine also. Besides that since large number of people are getting infected every day and the Scientists are of the view that third wave is almost at the doorsteps of India, it is necessary that Government should enter into directed dialogue with vaccine producers with the help of Indian Diplomats in those countries,” the Court said.
“We, accordingly, directed the State Government to find ways and means to ensure immediate procurement of vaccines so that all in Uttar Pradesh may get vaccinated with its complete doses within 3-4 months time and tell us on the next date fixed how it proposes to expedite purchase of vaccines from global market,” the Court ordered.
Rajat Rajan Singh, Advocate has moved an intervention application in which it has been pleaded that Government must come up with specific policy to vaccinate physically challenged persons.
The Court referred to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization for disability considerations in respect of physically challenged persons during the Covid-19 outbreak. It was informed that till date in the entire vaccination programme undertaken by the State Government, it was not provided as to what were the guidelines for vaccination specific to the physically challenged persons.
The Court held, “We find merit in the argument advanced by Rajat Rajan Singh and direct him to supply a copy of the Petition to the Additional Advocate General as well as Additional Solicitor General of India so that on the next date fixed both the Advocates may place before the Court the guidelines prepared for vaccination programme specific to the physically challenged persons.”
“We, accordingly, direct the Additional Advocate General to apprise us on the next date fixed as to how the State Government was dealing with the surge of pandemic in rural and sub-urban areas and smaller cities of the State”, the order said.
The Court has fixed the next hearing of the petition on May 11, 2021.