Crescent Kashmir

Vaccination for all by year-end, says govt as SC questions dual pricing policy

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The entire eligible population would be vaccinated by the end of 2021, the Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court, which sought clarifications on vaccine procurement by states, pricing and the need for mandatory registration on CoWIN app for people to get vaccinated.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a Special Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud that the government was also in talks with companies such as Pfizer for vaccine procurement.

The Bench, which was hearing a suo motu PIL on Covid management, posed a series of questions to the Centre on the Covid vaccine procurement policy and pointed out that states such as Punjab and Delhi were in the process of issuing global tenders to procure foreign vaccines.

“The Centre says it gets a low pricing since it buys in bulk. If this is the rationale, then why do states have to pay a higher price? There needs to be one price for vaccines across India,” it noted.

“Is this the policy of the Union Government that the state or municipal corporation can procure the vaccine or the Union Government is going to procure for them like a nodal agency? We want clarity on this and rationale behind this policy,” the Bench said.

Asking the Centre to file an affidavit on the issue, it posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

The top court also sought clarifications on the need for mandatory registration on the CoWIN app for people to get vaccinated without keeping in mind the real “digital India” situation, observing that the policymakers must have an ear to the ground. “Right now, the policy is such that it is completely exclusionary of the rural areas,” the court said.

“You keep on saying digital India, digital India, but the situation is actually different in rural areas…” it told Mehta.

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