The Supreme Court on Friday continued its hearing on the Covid situation and said any clampdown on information will be treated as contempt.
The apex court flagged the issue of threat of coercive action against people putting help calls on social media.
“We want to make it very clear that if citizens communicate their grievance on social media and Internet then it cannot be said its wrong information”, the court said.
“We don’t want any clampdown of information. We will treat it as a contempt of court if such grievances are considered for action. Let a strong message go to all the states and DGPs of states”, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat observed during the hearing.
Justice Chandrachud has also asked if a mechanism can be developed to show real time updates regarding the allocation of oxygen.
It also expressed concern over the drug shortage and asked why should the court not issue directions under Section 100 and Section 92 of the Patents Act to enable generics to manufacture drugs without the fear of legal action.
The court expressed its reservation on the price disparity of the vaccine. Justice S Ravindra Bhat told the Solicitor General about the differential pricing for Covid vaccines. “Why should we as a nation pay this? The price difference becomes 30 to 40,000 crores. There is no point for price difference. We are not directing it but you should look into it”.
In its last hearing on April 27, the bench had asked the state governments to file a report on their health infrastructure and did not restrain the High Courts from passing any order on Covid.
The apex court asked the state governments to file replies by Thursday with regard to their health infrastructure and said that the High Courts are not restrained from passing any directions as they are hearing the cases in their respective states and they know the ground situation better.
The bench had asked the central government to explain the basis and rationale behind the pricing of anti-Covid vaccines and other necessary items.