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On vaccinating rural India, Supreme Court warns of digital divide, asks why Centre hasn’t acted on April 30 order

He also added that this is for the larger welfare and it is a non-arbitrary policy. We have made some relaxations keeping the ground realities in mind and according to the changing situation. Please don’t take this as a final version. There is a change and we will place it.”

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The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central government to make a flexible policy for inoculating the country’s rural population against Covid-19 and its variants.

The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat took up the suo motu matter with regard to Covid-19 situation prevailing across country. During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud said, “You keep saying that situation is dynamic, but you have to keep your ears on the ground. You keep saying Digital India, Digital India, but you are not aware of the ground realities. A poor worker from Jharkhand has to go all the way to a common centre?”

Taking into account the plight of the large poor and illiterate population, Justice Chandrachud asked the Centre, “You can certainly have registration, but how will you answer the digital divide? How do you answer the question about migrant labourers who have to go from one state to another?”

Reading from the Central Government’s affidavit on this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta replied, “Registration on Co-WIN is made mandatory to ensure that crowding at the vaccination centre is controlled.” He also added that this is for the larger welfare and it is a non-arbitrary policy. “We have made some relaxations keeping the ground realities in mind and according to the changing situation. Please don’t take this as a final version. There is a change and we will place it.”

Justice Chandrachud said, “We are not changing the policy. We are asking you to please wake up and smell the coffee and see what’s happening across the country.” Solicitor General Mehta informed the court that walk-in vaccination is also being done subject to the availability of vaccines.

Also read: Supreme Court directs Centre to procure Covid vaccines for whole country at one uniform price, says can’t have dual pricing for states, Centre

To this, Justice Chandrachud sternly said, “We are not framing policy. There’s an order of April 30 that these are the problems. You will be flexible. You can’t just say that you’re the Centre and you know what’s right.”

“We have a strong arm to come down on this. If we say there is a problem, we expect you to look into it. Digital literacy in India is far from perfect. I am the chairman of the e-Committee. I have seen the problems which afflict this. You have to be flexible and keep your ears on the ground,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said.

Thereafter, the bench asked the Central Government to make a policy document on this issue and said, “We don’t want just an affidavit. If there’s a policy document, we want to see it.”

Source: ILNS

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