During the suo moto hearing in which the Supreme Court of India had taken cognizance on issues related to oxygen supply, drug supply, and vaccine policy in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the top court on Friday said there should not be any clampdown on information.
“We will treat it as contempt of court if such grievances are considered for action. Let a strong message go to all the states and DGP of states that clampdown of info is contrary to basic precepts,” Justice DY Chandrachud said.
“We want to make it very clear that if citizens communicate their grievance on social media and the internet, it cannot be said it’s wrong information,” he added.
Justice Chandrachud said during 1970 famine, free flow of information enabled the government to tackle problem effectively as compared to clampdown during the 1918 pandemic.
He also asked the Centre as to why there are two different prices for the same vaccine.
SC said the differential pricing of vaccine for the Centre, States and private hospitals is very very disturbing. “What happens to the marginalised and SC/ST population? Should they be left to the mercy of private hospitals,” it asked.
“Why do you not follow the pattern of the national immunisation program? Also, will the walk-in facility for vaccination continue after May 1?”
Centre should show investment by it to ramp up the manufacture of vaccines. This will be the most important intervention by Central government when private manufacturers have been funded to produce vaccines, says Justice Chandrachud.
SC said government must consider National Immunisation Programme for various vaccines and must think of providing free of cost vaccination to all citizens. It says the private manufacturers cannot be left to decide which state should get how much quantity vaccines.
The top court also said doctors and nurses who are working tirelessly to combat the pandemic, are reaching breaking point and must be paid more whether they are in public or private hospitals.