Jodhpur: The Rajasthan High Court on Friday sought the response of the Centre and the state government on a petition challenging the different prices of anti-coronavirus vaccines and alleging mismanagement of the COVID-19 situation.
The petition also stated that the different prices announced for procurement of vaccines for the central government, states and private hospitals violated the fundamental and constitutional rights of citizens.
Covishield, which is being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, is priced at Rs 150 a dose for the Centre, Rs 400 a dose for state governments and Rs 600 a dose for private hospitals.
The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is priced at Rs 150 a dose for the Centre, Rs 600 a dose for state governments and Rs 1,200 a dose for private hospitals.
Both vaccines are administered in two doses.
A division bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Vinit Kumar Mathur issued notices to the Centre and state government seeking their response by May 24.
Petitioner Manish Bhunwal’s counsel Nitish Bagri said vaccines to be provided at different prices to the central government, states and private hospitals was against the statutory provisions of the law and also in violation of the fundamental rights as well as constitutional rights of citizens.
Citing the Drug (Price Control) Order, 2013, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy, 2012, the National Health Policy, 2017, and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Bagri claimed none of the above provide for different pricing schemes for the centre and states.
The formula to derive maximum retail price is unified and only local taxes can be charged extra by states, as per their tax provisions, he said.
The petition alleging mismanagement of the COVID-19 situation in Rajasthan mentioned issues of non-availability of oxygen beds, ICU beds, shortage of oxygen and medical supplies, comprising consumable medicines and injections, essentially for treating patients.
“The Rajasthan government in a notification issued on April 30 had stated that 95 per cent of the hospitals were full while the current infection rate was hovering around 21 per cent, which was the result of gross mismanagement of the state government in dealing with a crisis,” it said.
Rajasthan reported 161 coronavirus-related deaths and 17,532 fresh cases on Thursday, pushing the toll to 5,182 and the infection count to 7,02,568, according to an official report.
Jaipur recorded a maximum of 46 new fatalities, followed by Jodhpur where 27 patients succumbed to the infection.