It also posted the transfer petitions for hearing next week, including the PIL seeking to prioritise judges and lawyers for the Covid-19 vaccines.
The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the suo motu proceedings initiated by the Delhi High Court that posed various questions to the vaccine manufacturers and the government on the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine, including capacity to provide the vaccines and the rationale behind keeping strict control over class of persons who can be vaccinated.
A Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde said since the issues pending before the SC are the same as the one pending before the Delhi High Court, it wants to transfer the case to the apex court itself. However, the bench sought response from the parties as to why the case should not be transferred to it and also allowed senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Serum Institute, to amend its plea to include a prayer for transfer of similar matters pending in other HCs, including Bombay HC. It also posted the transfer petitions for hearing next week, including the PIL seeking to prioritise judges and lawyers for the Covid-19 vaccines.
Vaccine makers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, which have developed and are manufacturing the Covid vaccine in India, had moved the top court seeking to restrain HCs from entertaining petitions related to vaccinations. For “pan-India” issue like this, it was absolutely necessary that the SC alone should have judicial intervention and not the HCs in their respective jurisdictions as it would otherwise create confusion in the entire vaccination process, they argued.
While senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Bharat Biotech, said it cannot be made to run from one HC to another and any disclosure would harm interests if they have to disclose capacity, Salve said “no one is in commerce-like situation. The government is monitoring administration of the vaccine”.
The Delhi HC earlier this month registered a suo motu PIL based on a letter by Bar Council of Delhi and had directed the manufacturers to disclose their capacities to manufacture Covaxin and Covishield vaccines. The HC, while asking the Centre to explain the rationale behind keeping strict control over class of persons who can be vaccinated currently, also said the two vaccine manufacturers had more capacity to provide the vaccines but it seemed they were not exploiting it fully.