Show-cause notices issued to secretaries for not fixing corona vaccine price

Published April 28, 2021
The bench deplored the non-compliance of court orders. — Wikimedia Commons/File
The bench deplored the non-compliance of court orders. — Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to secretaries of the cabinet division and ministry of national health services and head of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) for not fixing price of Covid-19 vaccine.

The single-judge bench of SHC headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar observed that besides a divisional bench, the federal authorities concerned had also undertook before it twice that they would fix the price of Covid-19 vaccine (Sputnik-V) imported by a private firm. However, they remained unable to honour these undertakings.

At the outset of the hearing, an assistant attorney general and assistant director legal Drap admitted that the price of the vaccine had not yet been fixed by the federal cabinet and submitted a statement along with copies of correspondence between the cabinet secretariat and the office of attorney general.

The bench deplored the non-compliance of court orders and observed that on March 31, the federal authorities undertook before a division bench of the SHC that the price would be fixed within a week and on April 1, they requested this bench to grant time for fixing the price and on April 12, another undertaking was given to this bench that the price of the vaccine would be fixed by the federal cabinet within 10 days.

Justice Akhtar further said that the documents filed by defendants clearly showed that they had committed breach of undertakings given before this as well as the division bench.

“In the above circumstances, issue show-cause notices to the secretary Cabinet Division, secretary Ministry of National Health Service and chief executive Drap to show cause why proceedings should not be initiated against them for committing deliberate and willful breach of the above undertakings”, the bench in its order said.

It directed them to submit their replies without fail before the next hearing.

Meanwhile, both the sides proposed and suggested some issues to be settled by the bench in the present case about the impugned notification issued by Drap withdrawing the exemption regarding Covid-19 vaccine import by a private firm.

The lawyers for both sides agreed that they would argue the matter on May 20 on these issues involving only the questions of law.

While adjourning the matter, the bench also extended its earlier interim stay order against withdrawal of exemption notification about imported Covid-19 vaccine till next hearing.

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

It was further argued that the firm had imported one million doses of Sputnik-V, but the impugned notification was withdrawn by Drap.

Two petitions not maintainable

The SHC has dismissed two identical petitions as not maintainable.

The petitioners Shazia Arif and Danish Elahi contended that they availed certain financial facilities, but the status of their borrowings came to be reported through the Electric Credit Information Bureau as being allegedly overdue and the banks concerned had commenced recovery proceedings against them.

After hearing both sides, the bench comprising Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed dismissed the petitions for not being maintainable.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2021

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