The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to entertain a PIL that sought a uniform price of Rs 150 per dose, of both Covaxin and Covishield vaccines. The PIL that sought directives to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to provide their vaccines at uniform rates to both the Union as well as the state governments, was not entertained on the ground that the Supreme Court has already taken cognizance of that issue.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girlish Kulkarni said, "We won't hear this matter. The Supreme Court has already taken up a suo motu cognizance of issues that would have a pan-India effect."
"Pricing is a phenomenon that would certainly affect not only Maharashtra but the entire nation. The apex court has fairly covered this issue," the judges said while refusing to hear the plea.
The PIL filed by advocate Fayzan Khan and three other law students stated that the SII decided to sell its vaccine at Rs 150 per dose (plus the GST) to the Union government. The company has further decided to sell the same vaccine to state governments at the rate of Rs 400 per dose and Rs 600 for private hospitals.
Similarly, the Bharat Biotech would be selling Covaxin to the states for Rs 600 and Rs 1200 for private hospitals.
Notably, the distribution and pricing of the vaccine was initially controlled by the Union government. However, in a fresh decision, the Union while allowing vaccination for every citizen above the age of 18 years from May 1, has left the costing of these vaccines over the pharmacy companies, which the PIL says is not a "reasonable decision."
"These pharma giants are milking the fear psychosis of the increased death rates due to COVID-19," the plea reads.
"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 reads further.