The Delhi High Court on Tuesday deferred hearing on a plea seeking a reduction in the price of Covid-19 vaccines in the country to September 10.
The development came after the Central Government Counsel Anurag Ahluwalia urged the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh to grant him time to seek instruction on the matter.
Advocate A.K. Dubey, representing the petitioner, highlighted that the Drugs and Cosmetic Act specifies that there should be no disparity in the prices of medicines across India; and that the act of charging varied prices for the Covid-19 vaccines across India is causing discrimination. “Good health (of citizens) can be secured on the basis of reasonable price of vaccine,” he said.
Santosh Kumar Tripathi, Delhi Government Standing Counsel informed the Bench that the Centre is now supplying the Covid-19 vaccine free of cost across the nation.
Subsequently, the Bench opined that the petition has now become infructuous and was inclined to dispose of the petition. However, since the Standing Counsel for Central Government sought time to seek instructions on the issue, the matter was adjourned.
The PIL was filed by Rakesh, a social activist, through Advocates A.K Dubey, Deepak Kalra, Vidya Sagar and Pawan Kumar. The plea alleges that the price of anti-Coronavirus vaccine has increased across India; while the same is being supplied free of cost to various countries including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, by the Indian Government.
Relying on various newspaper articles, the plea states that the manufacturer of Covaxin would now be charging Rs 150 from the Centre, Rs 600 from the State and Rs 1,200 from private hospitals; while the same was earlier available at an affordable price of Rs 250 at private hospitals. However, with the increase in price, it would be difficult for most people in India to afford the vaccine, the plea claims.
The plea, therefore, prays for fixing the earlier prevailing rate of vaccine.
“It is very surprised that the Respondent No.1 (the Centre) without securing our citizen has been helping out the citizen of other countries, which is good, but same cannot be done while our citizen have been losing their life in India,” the plea adds.
The plea further adds that priority of the Government should be to save its citizens first, and thereafter, other countries should be supplied the vaccine.