Supreme Court News: SC’s bluntly to the government on Corona, ‘Court cannot remain a mute spectator if rights are violated’

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Table of Contents

Highlights:

  • It is not practical to book a vaccination slot with the help of others: Supreme Court
  • Most of the people in the country don’t have digital access…those on the margins are concerned
  • There is no projection of how 100 crores will be given the vaccine by December 31, 2021: Court Advisor

New Delhi
The Supreme Court has said that most people in India do not have access to the Internet. Less than 50 percent of the population in the country has wireless data service. In such a situation, it is not practical that most of the population of the country should register for vaccination through their friends, NGOs and social service centers of the village. Due to registration through Common Service Center, more crowd will gather there. Earlier, the central government had told the need for registration through the Kovin app for vaccination. The Supreme Court said that the Indian Constitution does not envisage that if the rights of the people are being violated because of the policies of the executive, then the court should remain a mute spectator.

The question is how will those who are on the margins get their slot.
The Supreme Court has said in its order that our question was and there was concern that how will the people who are marginalized in the country get the vaccination done. How will they get the slot to take the vaccine, how will they register through covin because the vaccination slot is available only through the digital portal. Then the central government said in its reply that registration is done through the Kovin app and four people can be registered on one mobile. Along with this, there is a common service center in all the gram panchayats, where the people of the village can go and register online so that they get the vaccine. Those who do not use the digital format can go to the common service center of the village and register with the help of others so that they can get a slot for vaccination. Also, with the help of other family members, NGOs and friends, they can book slots for vaccination. Right now there is no walk-in facility for everyone because the availability of vaccine is not that much and at the same time the center can be crowded. The government said that registration is also necessary so that age etc. is known and data for other doses is ready and people can be tracked. The situation may change when more vaccines are available.

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Majority of the country does not have internet….we are concerned about people’s right to health
The Supreme Court said that in a survey named Household Social Consumption Education, it was said that 4 percent of the population in the village and 23 percent of the population in the city have a computer. Also, 24 percent of the people in the age group of 15 to 29 years in the village and 56 percent in the city can operate the computer. In the country, 24 percent have internet facility at home. The TRAI report says that less than half the population in the country is taking wireless data service. States like Bihar, UP and Assam have tele-density below 75 per cent. The income of village people coming below poverty line is Rs 896 and per capita income of city is Rs 1316. Whereas internet data is Rs 49 for a month and thus 4 to 5 percent of the income goes in this. The Supreme Court said that in such a situation it is clear that there is a digital division. Digital literacy is low in the country. Vaccination slot facilities are on the digital portal and the court is concerned about the right to equality and right to health of the people. In such a situation, it is not practical that most of the people book slots for the vacancy by visiting their friends and relatives and common service center. If people go to the Common Service Center for the slot, then there will also be a huge crowd.

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Apps designed for vaccination are not eligible for the blind
The Supreme Court said that Kovin and Arogya Setu should also be in regional language. If Kovin does not give comfort to them, then they are blind. There is no audio text captcha for them. Also, information about age group, name of vaccine and whether it is free or not is not available on the Covin app. For those who do not have eyesight, it is difficult to find the date slot. Therefore, we direct that these inconveniences be looked into. The Supreme Court took cognizance in the Corona case on 22 April and since then passed several orders. Under this, a National Task Force was formed and asked to make recommendations regarding the availability, need and supply of oxygen. Along with this, questions were asked from the central government on the vaccine policy. During this, the central government told the Supreme Court that by December 2021, the vaccination would be completed across the country. For this, talks are going on with foreign companies making vaccines. Vaccination has started from 16th January. First given to health care workers and front line workers, then to people above 60 years of age and then to people above 45 years of age. Now people of 18 to 44 are also being given.

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No projection of how 100 crores will be given the vaccine by December 31, 2021: Court Advisor
Court advisors Jaideep Puri and Meenakshi Arora questioned the vaccine distribution. Also raised the issue of different price. Also said that foreign vaccine manufacturing companies do not talk to the state governments, they only talk to the central government of the country. Also, citing the news report said that those who are engaged in the last rites are not aware and vaccination has not been done. The Center has said that by December 31, 2021, 100 crores will get the vaccine i.e. 200 doses will be required for this. But there is no projection of how this target will be achieved. There are many facts which show that the production of the vaccine is low. People in the age group of 18 to 44 years have a population of 59 crores and thus 120 crore doses will not be required. According to the report, Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech will prepare doses of less than 100 million per month, as well as Sputnik will give 15 to 200 million, even then it will take 12 months to vaccinate people in the age group of 18 to 44 years. During this the virus will mutate and there is a possibility of more web coming in this way. Also, there should be a proper cremation place for the last rites of dead bodies across the country and there should be guidelines for this.

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Supreme Court also questioned the Liberalized Vaccine Policy
The Supreme Court had also questioned the central government regarding the Liberalized Vaccination Policy. The Center had then said in the Supreme Court that the vaccination started from January 16 and later the Liberalized Vaccination Policy was implemented from May 1. For this there was a request of the states and union territories. Experts also gave their opinion for this. The motive behind this is to decentralize the vaccination process so that the vaccination process can reach the last mile. The Center said that by July 2021, from 5 to 65 million serum doses per month, Bharat Biotech will make 90 lakh to 20 million doses per month from July. Also, Sputnik will make up to 12 million doses. The Liberalized Vaccination Policy has been brought so that more vaccine manufacturing companies come forward and the vaccination process can be completed at the earliest. Manufacturers must first specify what the purchase price will be. The Supreme Court said that the central government in its general budget had allocated 35 thousand crores for vaccine purchase. The central government should tell how this fund is being used and why this fund is not being used for the people of 18 years to 44 years. The Center says that the poor will not travel due to the liberalized policy. The court said that it clearly means that the responsibility of the central government is for three phases and the responsibility for the people of 18 to 44 years is on the state government.

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What steps have been taken to improve the cold storage to keep the vaccine
The Supreme Court has asked the central government to explain what is the status of cold storage equipment across the country where the vaccine is being kept. What is his capacity? How will such logistic burden be accomplished? Is the number of cold storages being increased for the maintenance of the vaccine? How much was there before March 2020 and how much is it now. What steps has been taken by the government to improve the capacity of cold storage.

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Court cannot remain a mute spectator
The Supreme Court has observed that the Indian Constitution does not envisage that the courts should remain a mute spectator if the rights of the people are being violated due to executive policies. The Supreme Court made this comment in the Covid case when the central government said that the court should not interfere in the policy decision of the government in the Covid case. The Supreme Court said that the second wave of the corona epidemic is underway and the court will continue to use its jurisdiction and see that the policy stands the test of logic, is not arbitrary and protects the rights of the people. The court said that the distribution of rights is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Whatever policy making is in the hands of the executive and our Constitution does not envisage that the courts should remain a mute spectator when the executive policy is interfering with the constitutional rights of the people.

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