While the Supreme Court did not conclude on the constitutionality of the central government’s vaccine policy, it found that the manner in which the current policy is framed is detrimental to the right to public health as provided in Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
The apex court’s order comes after a three-judge bench, led by Justice DY Chandrachud, took up, suo moto, the issue of distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic. In the hearing on Apr. 30 the court had asked several questions regarding the government’s policies on supply of oxygen, medical services and access to healthcare, as well as vaccination.
In its order, published on the court’s website on May 2, the court has given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government till May 10, the date of the next hearing, to revisit its initiatives and protocols on vaccination, as also on availability of oxygen and availability of of essential drugs at affordable prices.
On the issue of vaccines, while clarifying that the court did not seek to replace the government’s policy with its own, the bench raised concerns about the centre’s new vaccine policy – in which vaccines for those above 45 years, healthcare and frontline workers will be provided by the centre, whereas states will provide vaccines for those between 18-45 years.