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Modi Govt Warns Supreme Court Against ‘Overzealous Judicial Intervention’

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NEW DELHI: The Centre has conveyed to the Supreme Court that judges have little expertise in dealing with the dynamic nature of numerous challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and that the executive, both the Centre and states, in consultation with domain experts, were in a much better position to manage the distressed situation.

“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,” the Centre said.

The first signs of a push back against the SC’s expanding superintendence of oxygen distribution emerged as the Centre in its affidavit said it was withholding details sought by the apex court and leaving a decision on this issue to the national task force set up by an SC bench headed.

The task force comprises experts drawn from various cities. “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 Centre said, the reverential phraseology barely camouflaging its angst over the SC’s suo motu proceedings.

The bench in its April 30 and May 6 orders asked the Centre many questions — from nationalisation of vaccination to supply of essential medicines. The government viewed this as an interference by judiciary in policy decisions worked out in consultation between the central and state governments and domain experts.

Seeking executive discretion and policy framework to deal with the situation, the Centre said, “In times of such unprecedented crisis, the executive functioning of the government needs discretion to formulate policy in the larger interest. In view of the unprecedented and peculiar circumstances under which the vaccination drive is devised as an executive policy, the wisdom of the executive should be trusted.”

The Centre did explain its vaccination policy and 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 (above 45 years) 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.”

“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.”

Though the Centre went through the motion of acknowledging the SC’s role in scrutinising the executive’s work, it was of the firm opinion that the judiciary lacked the necessary expertise or wherewithal to address, even on a strategy level, the challenges posed by the pandemic, which is propelled by mutated versions of Covid.

Courtesy – timesofindia.com

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