COVID Coverage: National Pandemic Policy – 27th April

The Bench provided a tentative framework of issues it would handle.

Bench Provides a Framework of Issues 

CJI Bobde retired on 23 April. When the case was listed on 27 April, J DY Chandrachud replaced him.

During this hearing, the Court clarified that it did not seek to ‘supplant’ High Courts. HCs had a broad jurisdiction under Article 226. And were better placed to understand ground realities. However, the Supreme Court cannot be a ‘mute spectator’ and has a complementary role to play in addressing national, systemic, and inter-state issues.

Since the bench and other counsel required time to go through the Union’s plan, the Court did not go into the substantive issues. They appointed two new amicus curiae: Senior Advocates Meenakshi Arora and Jaideep Gupta. The State of Rajasthan had also sought to correct a Delhi High Court order on seizing tankers. The Court directed them to approach the Delhi High Court instead.

The bench also passed an order providing a tentative framework of issues they wanted to handle. It included the following issues:

  • Projected demand for oxygen and the steps taken to monitor and increase its supply.
  • The basis for allocating oxygen to states and ensuring daily communication on States’ requirements.
  • The availability of beds and treatment centres.
  • Policy specifying norms for admitting patients to hospitals .
  • Steps to ensure essential drugs are available and controlling prices and hoarding.
  • Ensuring daily communication of requirement of drugs from Districts and States.
  • The projected requirement of vaccines and steps to procure them to address the current deficit, including in order to administer the second dose.
  • The method of allocating vaccines to States and the rationale for pricing of vaccines (including differential pricing for the Union and States).