Delhi HC makes Bharat Biotech, Centre parties in pleas seeking details on Covaxin

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New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Monday made Bharat Biotech and the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister as parties to two more petitions that sought details under the Right to Information (RTI) Act regarding the funding and expenses associated with the development of Covaxin, India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine.

Earlier, both were made respondents only in one of those pleas.

The court stated that as both of them are required respondents in all three pleas, a common memo of parties shall be submitted with each petition.

Three petitions challenging the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) decision to withhold the facts on the grounds of trade secrets, intellectual property, and the sovereignty and integrity of India are currently being heard by a bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh.

Representing Bharat Biotech, advocate Sughosh Subramanyam told the court that petitioner, advocate T Prashant Reddy, has been censured by the Central government for working against India’s interests. He also allegedly spreads false information about the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response, advocate Swathi Sukumar, appearing for Reddy, refuted the claim and said that these remarks had more to do with the deaths of children in the Gambia who ingested Indian cough medication than they had with the Covid-19 pandemic or vaccinations.

The court asked Subramanyam to place the Centre’s notice issued to Reddy on record.

The bench also noted Sukumar’s submission that the CIC denied the information to the petitioner and concluded that there were trade secrets involved, without even looking at those documents. Sukumar, therefore, demanded that the documents be placed for the court’s examination.

The bench listed the matter for next hearing on March 16.

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