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Delhi High Court slams Centre for not taking Covid vaccination seriously

The Delhi High Court today has come down heavily on Centre while hearing the application filed by “Panacea Biotec” seeking release of an arbitral award amount passed in its favour, from the Centre, in order to manufacture 100 million doses per year of “Sputnik V Vaccine”, the world’s first registered vaccine against coronavirus in collaboration with “Russian Direct Investment Fund” (RDIF). 

A division bench of Justice Manmohan & Justice Navin Chawla has said your officers are living in “Ivory Towers” not oblivious of the ground reality when an opportunity is available to overcome the shortage of Covid vaccine. 

“Tell your officers it is an opportunity for you, don’t lose it. No one is applying its mind. The virus has not spared any single family. Your officers are living in ivory towers,” said the bench. 

The Bench said “God Bless this Country” while referring to the present pandemic situation that is taking so many lives. 

The Court added, Every day you are castigated by each and every court and still you are not awake.

“Which bureaucrat is giving you instructions. Is he not alive to the situation? God bless this country. That is why we are facing this situation. In such matters instructions are to be taken from the highest authorities that too within 30 minutes,” the bench said.

It added, “Does your officer not see so many deaths are taking place in the country and we are short of vaccines. Your client is not alive to the situation.”

The Company said, “if the awarded amount is not released by the Centre to them, the whole process of manufacturing Sputnik V Vaccine at the fastest pace May get derailed and delayed which will not be in the larger interest of humanity.”

The Court issued notice to the Centre and asked them to file their reply within a week and list the matter for hearing on May 31. 

The Court was hearing the application filed by “Panacea Biotech Limited” seeking release of an award amount passed by in its favour running into crores of rupees, which will ultimately allow it to manufacture “Sputnik V Vaccine” for Covid 19 in collaboration with RDIF. The Company undertakes to keep on depositing with the Registrar of the Delhi High Court 20% of the sale proceeds of the said “Sputnik V Vaccine” for Covid 19 in order to meet the challenge of coronavirus which will lead to an irreversible and irretrievable situation. 

The Senior Counsel Sandeep Sethi appearing for the company submitted before the court that If the awarded amount is not release, the whole process of manufacture of vaccine at the fastest pace may get derailed and delayed which will not be in the larger interest of humanity.

Whereas the Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh representing the Centre submitted that certain misleading statements made in the application and it will not benefit the country as it will be for global supply by RDIF.

The present application was filed by the “Panacea Biotech Limited” in a pending appeal which was filed by the Centre against the order of Single Judge which had dismissed its plea on a limited point of limitation period. The Centre had challenged the arbitral award passed in the favour of “Panacea Biotech Limited”, “Bharat Biotech International Ltd” and “Serum Institute of India” relating to an earlier agreement for pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccines in 2010.

“Panacea Biotech Limited”, in its application has submitted that due to the pendency of the appeal, the release of the awarded amount in its favour has been held up which was ordered to be deposited in OMP(EnF)(Comm) No. 145/2019, and the release of the said amount in its favour at the earliest is in larger interest of humanity as it already manufactured trial batches of the Covid vaccine Sputnik V in collaboration with Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the process of manufacturing scale-up batches is on. 

The plea stated, “that the efficacy of Sputnik V Vaccine is 91.6% as Confirmed by the data published in the Lancet one of the world’s oldest and most respected Medical Journals; it is one of only three vaccines in the world with efficacy of over 90% Sputnik V provides full protection against severe cases of Covid 19.”

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