The Karnataka High Court has issued notice to the Union of India and others in a petition filed by Professor S. Chandrashekar, a former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) employee, seeking directions to the government to ensure that adequate steps and facilities are in place to upscale the the production, distribution and supply of vaccines and that no royalty, Goods and Services Tax or any other taxes shall be imposed on the vaccine's manufacturer in India.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar issued the notice and directed the respondents to file their statement of objections within a period of three weeks. The petition which is filed through MANIK B. T of Thiru & Thiru Advocates, states that if rapid vaccination of the entire population of India is not in place, there will be a significant threat not only to the health of Indian citizens but also to the nation' economy and security.
The petition seeks directions to the Government of India to also invoke the provisions of section 92 of the Patent Act read with Section 66. However, before doing so, the respondent should allow the various global manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine to voluntarily execute licences to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines in India. Also to constitute a rapid action task force to oversee the upscaling of the manufacturing of vaccines, the rapid inoculation of people and for regulating the price of the vaccines. The plea claims that India requires approximately 2.7 Billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines within the next few months to vaccinate its entire population.
Moreover, the Government of India should persuade all the pharma companies to give voluntary licenses for the manufacture at a reasonable cost considering the fact that India requires over a billion vaccines year after year, perhaps in perpetuity, which is a lucrative business offer. The plea also seeks that the royalty that the Indian manufacturers pay to the foreign or Indian pharmaceutical companies that have developed or are developing vaccines should be exempted from all kinds of taxes, at least for three years. The court refused to grant any interim relief and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.