Federal cabinet told to decide Covid-19 jab price in two weeks

Published April 13, 2021
The Sindh High Court on Monday expressed resentment with the federal cabinet for not fixing the rate of a Covid-19 vaccine and directed it to determine the price till April 27. — Reuters/File
The Sindh High Court on Monday expressed resentment with the federal cabinet for not fixing the rate of a Covid-19 vaccine and directed it to determine the price till April 27. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday expressed resentment with the federal cabinet for not fixing the rate of a Covid-19 vaccine and directed it to determine the price till April 27.

The SHC also extended its earlier interim stay order till the next hearing against the withdrawal of an exemption notification issued by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) about the Covid-19 vaccine import by a private firm.

When the matter came up before Justice Nadeem Akhtar, assistant attorney general Mohammad Ahmar informed the bench that fixation of the vaccine’s price had not been done since the federal cabinet was of the view that the price could not be fixed in view of the ad-interim order operating in this suit.

The bench deplored that this view taken by the federal cabinet was absolutely misconceived as a statement was made on behalf of the federal authorities before a division bench of the SHC on March 31 that the price of the vaccine would be fixed by the federal government within a week and the report would be filed before this bench.

The SHC summons interior secretary for failing to file missing persons’ details

It further noted that on April 1, the federal authorities, impleaded as defendants in this suit, had sought time from this bench for placing on record the price fixed by the government.

At this juncture, the federal law officer gave an undertaking on behalf of the federal cabinet that the price of the subject vaccine would be fixed within 10 days.

Justice Akhtar ruled that a compliance report about fixation of the price must be placed in court without fail on the next date of hearing with an advance copy to the lawyer for the plaintiff.

The law officer and counsel for Drap also undertook to file a written statement before the next date so that issues involving only questions of law could be settled.

They agreed that no factual controversy was involved in the present case and it could be decided on the basis of legal issues involved therein.

As volunteered by him on the last hearing, the plaintiff’s lawyer submitted that he would file all relevant information including number of ampoules imported, sold by the plaintiff and names of the people vaccinated during the course of the day.

A pharmaceutical company filed a suit stating that Drap had withdrawn its earlier notification issued in February under which it exempted the import of the Covid-19 vaccine for sale for a period of six months or till the fixation of price.

It was argued that the firm had imported one million doses of Covid-19 vaccine (Sputnik-V), but the impugned notification was withdrawn by Drap.

Pleas for jobs’ regularisation dismissed

Meanwhile, a two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Akhtar turned down a set of petitions seeking regularisation of officers appointed on a contractual basis in grade-16 and above in different departments of the Sindh government.

It directed the government to reverse all such regularisation and sought a compliance report from the Sindh chief secretary.

It ruled that the regularisation/appointment in grade-16 or above without the mandatory competitive process of selection by the Sindh Public Service Commission was in violation of the Constitution.

Interior secretary summoned

Another SHC bench on Monday summoned the interior secretary for repeatedly flouting its directives by not submitting the details from the internment centres regarding missing persons.

The bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha directed the secretary to appear in person on May 25 along with a list of all the internment centres and persons detained therein.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021

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