The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to file a reply on a plea seeking revival of the vaccine public sector units (PSUs) and utilise their full production capabilities by placement of purchase orders.
The directive was issued by a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and A S Bopanna.
The Supreme Court bench asked the Centre to respond to the plea within 4 weeks after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said notice is not required in the matter as it would be in the domain of policy decision.
“We want to know what is the policy of the government… SG appears for Centre and states that a reply will be filed by four weeks. A rejoinder may be filed within three weeks thereafter. List the matter after the pleadings are complete,” the Supreme Court bench said.
According to a media report, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati also appeared for the Centre while senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appeared for the petitioners.
The Supreme Court bench was hearing a plea filed by former IAS officer Amulya Ratna Nanda,
The plea said measures should be taken “to revive vaccine PSUs by ensuring issuance of production licences to the remaining GMP compliant vaccine PSUs to utilise them for manufacturing all mass vaccination programmes, including COVID-19 vaccine, to meet on-going demand influx”.
The plea said the PSUs should be granted “full autonomy” as envisaged in the Javid Chowdhary report, on vaccine production in the public sector units, of 2010 to ensure their complete revival and smooth functioning in the future.
The plea also said no PSUs should be excluded from producing any vaccine or from government vaccine procurement, as long as quality and affordability are ensured.
The plea said: “India is home to the oldest vaccine PSUs, with 25 of them set up under the British Raj. By the 1980s, 29 PSUs were set up with the sole objective of self-reliance and self-sufficiency in vaccine production for the Universal Immunisation Programme introduced in 1986 to prevent mortality and morbidity amongst children in India as part of the global effort by the World Health Organisation.”