Kerala HC to continue hearing Centre's appeal against early second vaccine dose order on Sep 30
Kochi:The Kerala High Court on Monday said it will hear, after three days, the Centre's appeal against a single judge order allowing the second Covishield dose after four weeks from the first for those who want to take it earlier than the present suggested gap of 84 days.
A bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly did not pass any interim order in the matter and listed it for hearing on September 30.
The Centre has challenged the September 3 decision by Justice P B Suresh Kumar, which had come on a plea by Kitex Garments Ltd, seeking permission to administer the second dose of the vaccine to its workers without having to wait for 84 days.
Kitex, in its plea, had said it has vaccinated more than 5,000 of its workers with the first dose and has arranged for the second dose at a cost of nearly Rs 93 lakh, but was unable to administer the same due to the prevailing restrictions.
The bench on Monday directed Kitex to, in the meantime, furnish the vaccination details of its employees, advocate Blaze K Jose, appearing for the company, said.
He also said that the Centre had sought an interim stay of the September 3 order, but the bench refused to grant the same.
However, Assistant Solicitor General P Vijayakumar, appearing for the Centre, said that since the company has not yet filed a contempt plea for non-compliance of the September 3 direction, a stay was not pressed for.
The central government, in its appeal, has contended that if the single judge's decision is not set aside, it could derail the vaccination policy of the country and would result in disorder in the implementation of the strategy of the Union government to fight COVID-19.
The Centre has also claimed that the September 3 judgement was an attempt to evaluate the issue on the basis of the right to equality provided in the Constitution instead of viewing it from a scientific angle and if allowed, would result in social disaster which should not be allowed to happen.
It had also said, "The Single Judge ought to have seen that if the government is forced to honour the claims of other groups or industrial units like the petitioners (Kitex Garments), the same would have a cascading adverse effects on the organised and regulated pattern of vaccine administration."
The Centre's petition has contended that the national vaccine policy is formulated based on the opinion and advice of experts in the field and also based on clinical trials and hence, any change in the policy can only be carried out based on the necessary approvals and clinical trials.
The Single Judge on September 3 had said that if the Central and State governments can permit persons travelling abroad to choose between early and better protection from COVID-19, there is no reason why the same privilege cannot be extended to those here who want early protection in connection with their employment or education.
On this, the Centre, in its appeal, has said it had offered relaxations in favour of certain persons who were a separate class by themselves and for valid reasons and Kitex cannot claim parity with them.