Center calls out on Supreme Court for non-expertise & overzealous intervention in pandemic crisis
Weeks into Supreme Court constantly cornering Centre for its handling of Covid-19 second wave and hard-handling government with its comments, the Centre has finally responded. Central Government has conveyed that Supreme Court judges have limited knowledge and expertise in dealing with the pandemic that is notoriously dynamic in nature. It further stated that executive bodies in this relation, which are the Centre and the States, have upper hand in this situation and are better embodied to handle pandemic and take decisions in this matter as they are in direct and regular consultation with the scientists and healthcare experts.
Addressing to the Supreme Court, Centre said, “In the context of a global pandemic, where the response and strategy of the nation is completely driven by expert medical and scientific opinion, there is little room for judicial interference. Any overzealous, though well-meaning, judicial intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences, in absence of any expert advice or administrative experience, leaving doctors, scientists, experts and the executive very little room to find innovative solutions on the go.”
Supreme Court has been aggressively intervening the current oxygen shortage in States driven by alleged lapse in oxygen distribution by the Centre. The first push back by Centre against Supreme Court’s exceeding authoritative approach was in this matter. Centre released an affidavit stating it is withholding all details around oxygen distribution that has been sought by the court. The decision has been left to discretion of national task force set up by apex court bench. The task force comprises of experts from various cities.
Centre said, “In view of the constitution of an NTF and its terms and references, the central government respectfully defers its response on the issues mentioned in the SC order pertaining to generation, availability, procurement, allocation, supply, logistical plans for transportation of oxygen to states, its delivery by states to its hospitals and the manner of its administration to Covid-19 patients.”
The said clarifications and questions were raised by Supreme Court bench to the Centre in its April 30 and May 6 orders. The was largely viewed as interference by judicial body in key policy decisions that are framed through consultation between Centre and States along with domain experts.
Centre, however, explained its vaccination policy and program. It said, “As per medical advice and global policy, it is settled across the world that the age group above 45 years is especially vulnerable to Covid-19. In light of the same, it has been decided that the vaccination of this group is absolutely imperative. Since vaccination of the entire country is not possible in one stretch due to the very suddenness of the pandemic, limited availability of vaccine doses and vulnerability as the prime consideration, the policy is framed as above which is just, equitable, non-discriminatory and based upon an intelligible differentiating factor between the two age groups.”
It continued, “This policy conforms to the mandate of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution and is made after several rounds of consultation and discussion with experts, state governments and vaccine manufacturers requiring no interference by SC as while dealing with a pandemic of this magnitude, the executive does have room for free play in the joints, in larger public interest.”