New Delhi: No state should clampdown on information if citizens communicate their grievances on social media, the Supreme Court said today amid an unprecedented surge in Covid cases across the country, stressing that the court will “treat this as contempt if any citizen is harassed”.
Here’s some-point on this big story:
-A frightening spike in Covid cases in India – hit by a deadly second Covid wave – has led to a deluge of SOS messages on social media as hospitals scramble for resources. “There should not be any presumption that (the) grievances raised on internet by citizens are false,” the top court insisted today. Over 3 lakh cases are being recorded everyday for over a week.
-“It is of grave concern to me as a citizen or (a) judge. If citizens communicate their grievances on social media, we do not want clampdown on information. Let us hear their voices. We will treat this as contempt if any citizen is harassed if they want bed or oxygen. We are in (a) human crisis,” Justice DY Chandrachud said during a hearing. Even doctors and healthcare workers are not getting beds, he added, calling the situation “grim”.
-As the government hopes to curb the spread with the new phase of vaccination starting tomorrow that widens the coverage to all adults above 18 years of age, the top court yet again questioned the centre over the pricing of vaccines. “Why is the government not buying 100 per cent of doses produced in this time? Why should there be two prices for the centre and the states… what is the rationale,” the Supreme Court asked.
-India must follow the “national immunisation model which we had followed since independence,” the court said. “Pricing issue is extraordinarily serious. How will the poor and marginalised people find money to get vaccinated? We cannot have this private sector model,” the court said.
-The centre has tweaked its policy to allow states and private entities to buy doses directly from vaccine-makers. Manufacturers are free to supply 50 per cent of the doses to states and in the open market. The change in policy, however, has brought the government under criticism.
-Last week, the Health Ministry clarified the government’s procurement price for both COVID-19 vaccines – Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and the Serum Institute’s Covishield – remains ₹ 150 per doses and the “government procured doses will continue to be provided totally free to states”. Both SII and Bharat Biotech have also reduced prices for the states amid objections.
-The central government has “special responsibility for Delhi,” the Supreme Court said today, stressing that the national capital “represents micro-problems of the country”. “Centre’s proactive role in procuring (oxygen) tankers should be important,” the top court said while referring to the shortage of medical oxygen. “As a national authority towards the capital, this is the commitment you owe to citizens in Delhi,” it added.
-“The ground situation in Delhi is oxygen is really not available. Not only in Delhi, but also Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. What is the effect we are going to see today and the next hearing? How much oxygen you are going to provide to these critical states?” Justice Chandachud asked.
-The centre told the court that the transportation of oxygen tankers is a huge logistic problem and it would be eased out soon in supplying oxygen to the national capital. “Delhi’s problem would be acute because it is a non-industrial state. By and large, we have been supplying oxygen to all states,” the government said. Virtual control rooms are operating 24×7 for the supply of oxygen, it said.
-Hostels, temples, mosques, and religious places of worship should be opened to tackle the Covid spike, the top court suggested.