Mumbai: Refusing to hear a PIL seeking a direction to the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech to sell their coronavirus vaccines at a uniform rate of Rs 150 (plus GST) per dose, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said the petition should have been filed before the Supreme Court which, while taking up suo motu cognisance of matters pertaining to Covid-19, had said it would hear all pan-India issues.
“The Supreme Court has said issues that have pan-India effect will be dealt with by them and pricing is a phenomenon applicable all over India. We are not entertaining it (PIL) as the apex court has fairly covered it,” the High Court said.
The High Court also said the Covid-19 vaccines pricing is a universal issue concerning the whole nation and the petitioners should hence approach the apex court.
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The observation came after the PIL, filed last week by Mumbai-based advocate Fayzan Khan and three law students’ challenging the different rates of Covid-19 vaccines for the Centre and state governments, was mentioned before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni by the petitioner’s advocate Vivek Shukla.
Shukla, who sought urgent hearing into the matter, agreed to the High Court’s observation and said the petition would be withdrawn.
The Covid-19 vaccine is presumed to be an essential commodity and hence its management and distribution cannot be left in the hands of private companies, said the PIL filed earlier on April 24 and added “these pharma giants are milking the fear psychosis of the increased death rates due to COVID-19”.
“In a situation where the entire country is gripped with the COVID-19 pandemic, price control by the government is a must and such kind of loot and blackmail should not be permitted,” the PIL said, PTI reported.
READ: SII Reduces Covishield Vaccine Price For States By 25%, Vaccine To Now Cost Rs 300
Earlier on Wednesday, the SII announced that it would reduce the price of its vaccine from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose to the state governments.
Bharat Biotech, which had fixed the rate of ‘Covaxin’ at Rs 600 for the state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals, today announced that its vaccine would be available to the state governments at a price of Rs 400 per dose.