JAIPUR : Rajasthan High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Centre and the state and two pharma companies, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech International Limited, on differential pricing for Covid vaccines.
The division bench headed by Justice Sabina issued notice on a PIL by journalist Mukesh Sharma. The Covid vaccines, sold to the central government, the state governments and private hospitals are being charged differently, which the petitioner said is profiteering by the companies which enjoy monopoly on the vaccine.
The petition in an interim relief sought a direction to the two pharma companies to supply of vaccine to the state governments also on the same price at which they had supplied to the Centre or the central government be directed to provide free vaccination to all as was being done to people above 45 years.
Further it argued that the pharma companies agreed to provide the vaccine doses for Rs 150 per dose to the central government. There was no occasion or reason to be charging exorbitantly high prices of Rs 400 and Rs 600 from the state governments for Covidshield and Rs 600 and Rs 1,200 for Covaxin from the other organisations.
It said vaccination strategy adopted by the Centre is absolutely against public interest and a major impediment in India’s fight against Coronavirus.
“Since vaccination against a deadly virus is absolutely essential and vital for right to life of every individual and by charging a hefty amount for every dosage of vaccination, the Centre is imposing premium for guaranteeing the right to life to the people of India and the people of Rajasthan,” said the petition.
The petition pointed out that the Centre in its budget had made an allocation Rs 35,000 crore for fight against Coronavirus and accordingly the state government did not make a provision in its budget for vaccination of the people of the Rajasthan. However, with the present liberalised vaccination strategy and pricing puts enormous burden on the state’s finances which had now decided to provide free vaccination.
The petition pleaded to quash the Liberalized Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccine Strategy issued on April 20 2021 and government of India be directed to provide free vaccination to all persons within Rajasthan who desire to be vaccinated through the government operated vaccination centres.