Expressing its anguish over the future of a Non-Resident Indian who was not able to fly back to his workplace in Saudi Arabia even after getting the two jabs of Covaxin, the Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, asked the Centre to inform the court why the vaccine has not been recognised by Saudi Arabia.
Justice PV Kunhikrishnan also asked whether the Centre was bound to redress the grievance of a citizen if he/she loses his livelihood due to a state-sponsored vaccination scheme.
These queries were raised by the court when a petition filed by Girikumar Thekkan of Kannur seeking permission to re-vaccinate himself with the internationally-accepted Covishield vaccine came up for hearing. He sought the permission as the indigenously developed Covaxin that he took had not been recognised by the Saudi government.
‘A clear violation’
The Court orally observed that it could not say that a booster shot of Covishield should be provided to the petitioner. But it was a great casualty and a clear violation of fundamental rights. Now there were two groups of people in the country – while the ones who got Covishield could travel across international borders, others who chose Covaxin were refrained from doing so.
“Isn’t the government answerable for this? Isn’t it the government’s duty to redress his grievance?,” the court asked. The court added that it was not blaming the Centre government at all. This was an individual concern and one was refrained from going to his workplace. Therefore, it should be redressed.
Assistant Solicitor General S Manu, appearing for the Centre, submitted that the WHO had approved Covaxin developed by Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech for emergency use. In fact, several individual countries, including the UK, had started recognising Covaxin.
The focus during the Covid pandemic was on saving the lives of people by getting them administered with the vaccines, and it was then not practical or feasible to wait for international recognition for the vaccines. The Hindu BusinessLine